1. Introduction

Morality diverges in different groups people are affiliated with. Social groups limit our subjective morality by reason, so one’s subjective truth in the group, only deviates within a small margin. By the limitations of subjectivity a certain group remains a group as affiliates have close to same moral standards/ views. What is most important is that the group now differs from another constructively similar social group. To make it pragmatic it is the same as societies formed by pupils differs from society formed by adults. But the level of moral differentiation and even the existence of the differentiation, its universality and objectiveness, compared to subjectiveness are highly debatable theoretically and factually, both in psychology and philosophy.

2. Definition

Morality is the intuition that we ought to do that which is good and ought not to do that which is bad. The definition is twofold consisting of recognition of ,,something good or bad’’ and ,,ought to do good or bad’’.

In order to define morality, we first have to define what is good and what is bad. However, this is the same as trying to define a certain colour. You cannot describe it to someone that has not experienced nor has seen it. The impossibility to define what is objectively good and what bad makes morality impossible to be defined.

3. Derivation of morality

The derivation of morality always comes from repeated interaction between mortals as the highest form of moral existence. For example, if there were only one person alive on the planet Earth, he would not have to develop moral values. Moral values would be of complete non-use. But with just 2 people on Earth, moral values would soon start emerging. Based on a fact that people work better and are more successful working together, the two would have to make arrangements of what is beneficial for them and what is not. And by interacting in such way they would form moral values in a newly formed society. To make it understood, we can think of an example. I meet a stranger, the only other person alive on the Planet. I start talking to him, making arrangements in order to react common ground. These arrangements are basically our moral code, from which we must not fluctuate, or we suffer a conflict.

The flex of morality is a stance that describes one’s will to give in and embrace other’s view and perception of good caused by the fine usage of reason by the persuader. So this is basically a circular development of the society. Convincing people in such way is possible only because people are prone to the flex of morality.

4. Philosophical view: The clash between objectivity and subjectivity. The try to refute the theory of objectivity:

4. 1 Objectivity

Objective morality enables us to dictate how other people should behave without being called biased. It enables us to tell people that it is morally wrong to, for example, force children to marry, kill people etc. It is a way to prevent nihilism which is life without objective meaning, purpose or intrinsic value, which means that an object has in itself for its own sake an intrinsic property (a property an object has of itself). One would be able to resolve all of this by finding an objective value and an intrinsic value of objects.

Sam Harris, a strong believer of objective morality and the author of Moral landscape (2010), proposes a naturalistic definition of morality. This means that moral truths can be derived from observable empirical world which is a world based on experience. He also claims that ought comes from it. What he wants to say is that you should behave based upon observable facts of the universe. Harris explained his reasoning with an example: “3/ Unfortunately, many experiences are not pleasant. And they are not only unpleasant as a matter of cultural convention or personal bias — they are really and truly unpleasant. (If you doubt this, place your hand on a hot stove and report back.) → 5/ If we *should* do anything in this life, we should avoid what is really and truly unpleasant. (If you consider this question-begging, consult your stove, as above.)”

4. 2 Subjectivity

On the other hand, there is a philosopher Alex O’Connor who shares his ideas on his youtube channel CosmicSkeptic. He claims that Harris (with his stove) only proves that people’s wellbeing is good. Harris makes a fatal conflation with Alex ‘s words. The conflation between the objective fact that everyone agrees that X is true, and the objective fact that X is objectively true. He adds that even if we all subjectively react badly to pain and suffering, that does not make pain and suffering objectively bad. Let us back this up with an example, truth is not the same as democracy. Meaning even if everybody votes for a certain opinion it does not make it the necessary truth. Everyone agreeing pain is bad is a universal subjective truth that we all happen to agree with, not an objective fact.

He makes a very radical example, claiming holocaust was not objectively wrong. Meaning that it cannot be asserted that holocaust was really and truly bad. You can still subjectively convince people in changing their stance using reason. To put theory into practice, one can easily convince a Nazi that the holocaust was bad using reason. But firstly they both have to get on subjectively common ground. Making it subjectively agreeable that our wellbeing is a good thing, you convince a Nazi that the holocaust harmed our wellbeing. By his and one’s belief that everything that harms our wellbeing is bad, he will be made to think likewise. We can only treat morality as objective as long as we agree on subjective notions.

Lastly, because of the impossibility to define morality, even if we try to define it, we have to take a stance with a certain moral philosophy, furthermore making it subjective. But what is certain is that the act of defining, or of making something definite, distinct, or clear has to be objective.

4. 3 Religion as a set of objective moral rules

It is firmly thought by all orthodox religious people that religion offers objective morality. However, different religions are based on different ,,objective” moral foundations. For example, in Islam having multiple wives is nothing immoral, whereas in Christianity the 9th commandment orders ‘Thou shalt not covet neighbour’s wife’. In order to provide a better framework for moral truth people take a stance, concluding that one religion has a superior ethical code over another.

However, affiliating yourself with something that suits your feelings the best is subjectivity. Therefore, it can be claimed that religious moral values are based on subjective recognition of the superiority of the religion and the feeling rather than the fact that the morality of that religion is objective even if it is not.

To give an additional example of the same kind, let one presume that God is real, morality still is still subjective and not objective. In this case, when God is proven to exist, good and bad are firmly defined by the Lord. But there is still a missing link to the definition of morality. That is: Intuition that we ought to do good and ought not to do bad. Just because it is instinctive it does not make it true. It is a subjective impulse that cannot be demonstrated to be objectively good. The religious might have a contrast argument claiming that God defines that which is good and commands us to do that which is good. But the command contains no true value. For example, let us look at the order: Go follow me on instagram! Is the command true or false? It is neither. It just is. The command depends on if we recognize God’s authority. But it cannot be proven that we should recognize his authority.

5. Psychological view: The clash between relative and universal morality:

5. 1 Universal morality

Universal morality is a theory that morality is universal, meaning that everyone would react in the same moral or immoral way in a certain situation. Lawrence Kohlberg (1927–1987) was a psychologist that furthermore developed the idea of Piaget’s universal morality. The theory holds that moral reasoning, the basis for ethical behaviour, has six developmental stages, each more adequate at responding to moral dilemmas than its predecessor.

Level 1 (Pre-Conventional) Reasoners at this level judge the morality of an action by its direct consequences. It is especially common in children and animals.

1. Obedience and punishment orientation
Individuals focus on the direct consequences of their actions on themselves. For example, if one got punished for doing something, perpetrated as morally wrong, one will not do it again.

2. Self-interest orientation
Behavior is defined by whatever the individual believes to be in their best interest.

Level 2 (Conventional) To reason in a conventional way is to judge the morality of actions by comparing them to society’s views and expectations. It is typical of adolescents and adults. For example, …

3. Interpersonal accord and conformity
Individuals are receptive to approval or disapproval from others as it reflects society’s views. For example, one tries to be a “good boy” or “good girl” to live up to expectations. The expectations being approval or disapproval reflected from societal views.

4. Authority and social-order maintaining orientation
It is important to obey laws, dictims, and social conventions because of their importance in maintaining a functioning society. For example, if one person violates a law, perhaps everyone would — thus there is an obligation and a duty to uphold laws and rules.

Level 3 (Post-Conventional) Marked by a growing realization that individuals are separate entities from society, and that the individual’s own perspective may take precedence over society’s view. Post-conventional moralists live by their own ethical principles. Principles that typically include such basic human rights as life, liberty, and justice. People who exhibit post-conventional morality view rules as useful but changeable mechanisms — ideally rules can maintain the general social order and protect human rights.

5. Social contract orientation
The world is viewed as holding different opinions, rights, and values. Those that do not promote the general welfare should be changed when necessary to meet “the greatest good for the greatest number of people”. This is achieved through majority decision and inevitable compromise. Democracy is based on stage 5 reasoning.

6. Universal ethical principles
Moral reasoning is based on abstract reasoning using universal ethical principles. Decisions are not reached hypothetically in a conditional way but rather categorically in an absolute way. In this stage the individual acts because it is right, and not because it avoids punishment, is in their best interest, expected, legal, or previously agreed upon.

Moral universality has been affirmed by many studies. For example, the study Van Vugt & Van Lange (2006) proposed that the tendency to sacrifice personal security in favor of group wellbeing is present at an early age in both humans and animals. Furthermore, prosocial behavior is scientifically proven to be imbedded in our DNA inscription, as a result of survival values we had to develop (Wilson, 1975). Moral values, such as altruism and aggression have been proven to have a biological basis too (Carlo, in press; Coie & Dodge, 1998; Eisenberg & Fabes, 1998) (Van Vugt & Van Lange, 2006)

5. 2 Relative morality

Although some degree of consistency within and between cultures exists in the way some issues are dealt with morally, there exists a great degree of diversity in the way members express their take on certain issues. (Turiel et al., 1987) Also, Kohlberg’s universality of morality is questioned by the very fact that there are diverse views regarding the meaning and significance of morality itself across cultures.

Firstly, Gibbs et al.(2007) proposed that inhabitants of village lag behind in the development of moral reasoning as compared to people from industrialized nations. He used the village of Kissi from Kenya and many more as an example. He wanted to make a firm point that the villages that existentially lag in development, in comparison to industrialized and well developed nations, also lag in development and flex of moral reasoning.

Secondly, other factors such as participation in the institutions of one’s society leads to an advanced moral reasoning as this kind of participation enables us to reach new backgrounds that inflict the undefined good or bad on certain new moral viewpoints.

Thirdly, there was a study researching children who were brought up in Israeli cities or U.S and children from the agricultural settlements in Israel. The later ones express more concerns about societal laws and rules while discussing moral conflicts due to their training received in middle childhood for community governance/ explicit role-taking. In comparison, the Americans used more primitive empathic/explicit reasoning on the ground of 4 moral dilemmas about helping situations (Fuchs et al., 1986).

Kohlberg’s stages 5 and 6 of universal morality suggest morality should be based on personal values rather than societal laws. However, according to Snarey (1985) autonomous relativism clearly ignores the collectivist stance. Collectivist cultures (those in Korea, China, Japan, etc.) tend to give more emphasis on the society as a whole rather than to an individual. (Miller, 2007) Miller & Bersoff (1995) concluded that “In India, because of Hinduism, people who were expected to have attained Kohlberg’s stages 4 and 5 viewed solutions to moral dilemmas as the responsibility of the entire society, not of a single person.”

6. Conclusion:

Morality derives from constant interaction with more or less the same people. We conduct our lives based on moral basis of our society which is shaped by everyone’s individual moral standpoint and ability to be prone towards the flex of morality. It is a proven fact that society limits our morality in a way that it does not differ too much from its primal societal form.

Many have argued if morality is objective or subjective. The supporters of objectivity claim that there are some situations that are really and truly bad for all people, making it universal and objective. While on the other hand supporters of subjectivity claim the opposite. They say morality cannot be defined and so cannot be objective. In order to be objective, it has to be definable by a firm and non-malleable definition.

There is also a clash between relativity and universality. The theory of universality claiming that morality is universal and even has some biological integration. A strong supporter of such theory was Kohlberg that even proposed a theory of steps from which universality has developed. However, the theory of relativity proposes completely different views. It says that even in different societies the understanding of the term morality is different. Not to mention that some societies are more collectively identifiable as in contrast to others that are more individualistic.

There is also a theory that religion offers an objective set of moral rules. Claiming that religion is superior to everything else and thus something to acknowledge as objective. But in order to apprehend a certain religion as something that offers objective standpoint you have to subjectively decide that one religion is superior to another. By recognizing superiority in order to confirm objectivity one is doing a complete opposite, making the view and the theory completely subjective.

To conclude, morality, in my opinion, diverges in different societal groups because of its relativity and subjectivity. Although we have theories of its objectivity and universality, a person is a subjective creature. Everything we do is based on our will which is in direct connection with our feelings which are the drivers of our lives. The dominance of feelings only confirms the deeply known truth that many do not want to discover nor acknowledge. The truth is that a person only has to him, subjective truths.

A learner!