Morality is not simply a rule implemented by society such as driving in the left lane (which may differ and could easily have been the right lane) It is a standard that indeed exists and is taught to our children through education much like mathematics. You might say, "well, people only keep a moral code because they were socialized that way." And I agree! However, even if a child grew up on an island and they did not know that mathematics existed, its rules and principles would still apply. And its the same with morality. Similarly, a child may be raised to believe that 1+1 = 3, but that doesn't mean he correct or in line with the universal rules of mathematics. You will also notice that morality does not change like fashion does. The morality of today is Very similar to the past. Now, you might say that there were many ideas about Morality that changed or improved over time like slavery and equality due to reformers such as Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King who understood aspects morality better than those of their time. But in saying that morality has improved over time is comparing the morality of both the past and today against an over-arching moral code. If humanity did not believe that morality was universal, then we would not have been right in judging Nazi Germany for their actions. We may have still fought them to prevent their ruling the world, but we could not have blamed them for what they did any more than for their hair color if no moral code existed. And you will also notice that the Nazis did not try to reinvent the moral code. They tried to justify themselves by the code that existed. If everyone in the world decided that morality was NOT universal, then Hitler would not have had to write Mein Kampf to justify himself. Different societies across the globe over time may have had some differences in morality, but they have never lived by a totally Other morality. Imagine a world where it's honorable to run from battle and where anyone acting in selfishness is praised. Quite the contrary. Selflessness has always been admired. Different cultures may have different standards of who they should be selfless to, (whether family, friends, or country-men) but there is still a universal idea of selflessness. Lastly, some of you may ague that our urge to do right or wrong is simply a herd instinct or a method of survival, much like an animal. You may say it is like the other instincts such as a sexual instinct, or a mother's protective instinct, or a survival instinct. But humans are much different that animals. If a mother cheetah sees her cubs surrounded by lions, she will be conflicted between the mother's instinct to protect or the instinct to survive. The stronger of the two will win. In contrast, If you saw a man being attacked, you would also feel the same conflicting instincts, however along with them, you will feel a third instinct telling you that you ought to help the man. And that is the Moral Instinct. In this case, the instincts are much like the notes on a sheet of music and the third feeling is the sheet itself, telling you which to choose. We often feel this inside us, curiously telling us to side with the weaker of the two impulses, contrary to hour safely. This proves that the moral code is separate from instinct. You might compare this to a line of notes on sheet music telling you to play the black key instead of the white one. It would be foolish to say that the sheet of music was one of the notes. In general, I find that people don't want to believe in a moral code because they would then have to conclude that there was a God who created them. And heaven forbid, anyone tell them how to live their lives.
[Sorry for how hideously long the explanation was. If anyone is interested to hear more, read Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis.]
Killing; do some people have a right to kill? Or is it illegal FOR EVERYONE? The answer is obviously the latter, because there IS a universal moral code- All humans have an obligation to treat one another with respect and tolerance. If people have a difficulty understanding this then it is our obligation to TEACH them. Many people have difficult backgrounds, or underlying reasons for bad morals or behaviour, but that doesnt make their behaviour acceptable, we just accept it because of our TOLERANCE and UNDERSTANDING.
S. Harris suggests we agree to one universal definition of "morality," as that what is in the best interest of individuals and society at large, directly or indirectly (without causing harm). With one universal definition we can scientifically measure the results of our actions, of our political policies and economic practices. When the results support the well being of individuals and society at large, directly or indirectly (without causing harm,) than these actions are moral.
While I can't objectively verify it at this time, despite my greatest efforts, I can't shake the feeling that without some sort of objective standard by which to verify our actions, we're inevitably trapped in a state of moral relativism that undercuts every attempt we make to find order in the Universe and make sens out of human existence.
Though not intuitively obvious, I would argue that the 'Laws of Morality' as such are as real as the laws of thermodynamics and physics - we just need an Isaac Newton to come along and figure them out.
What is morality? I believe, in concept, it is not causing unnecessary pain in any situation, to any one person, including oneself. Whether the person is living in college or during the Rwanda genocide, the concept is the same. However the way in which the college person would apply this idea, compared to someone living during the Rwanda genocide would be very different, there making the application of the idea relative. But the Application being relative does not make Morality relative, for all application of ideas are relative based on the environment, Just look at government.
What we need to do,
is refine our hearts,
detox our bodies,
and sharpen our minds.
When all three actions are complete,
Darkness will become Light
non-being will become being
There must be something that the whole world has to agree on. Otherwise, the whole world will fall apart. There are some rules that are slightly different in different places, but that is only because it is only interpreted differently. That is why it is genuine that there is such a thing as universal moral value.
I believe in a universal set of morals that are ultimately correct and given by G-d himself. Other countries or society's may have different opinions on whats correct but that doesn't make them morals. They have their opinion we have our opinion and ultimately one of us has to be correct. Morals are eternal, therefore if murder is currently wrong, it will eternally stay wrong despite the majority of the world thinking it's morally correct. If you have an ultimate set of morals, then despite however many people think the opposite of those morals, makes their "morals" become opinions, which is what most people are confused about. People say that in a society that murders, since they believe it to be okay, it makes it morally correct. Although they think its correct, its not morally correct, which makes them opinions.
You can observe and perceive that the natural moral values come intuitively to our minds. When you are dealing with some moral decision, our moral intuition arises to Demand a Right way to act. This happens to everyone everywhere. One thing it is if we decide to accept or not, an another totally different, to say, that there are no moral universal laws. A person can reject after indoctrination, that assassinating is "right", and another, the natural condition of not assassinating.
A Universal Moral Code does exist in every person. Throughout our lives we have conditioned ourselves to either stray from this moral code or abide by it. There are inherit understandings of right and wrong. Based on cultural differences we may apply the code differently, but the Universal Moral Code remains the same. As we grow, we may become defiant to the moral code. Because this is at odds with our nature we attempt to "justify" our actions. This "justification" process is always needed in order condition a person to oppose the Universal Moral code.
There is a Universal Moral Code but it differs as do most things, sure there are a slightly different set of rules for different places, but they follow the same moral code, just interpreted differently. Some Harvard psychologists think that there is an innate universal moral code in everyone, and i agree. How it is used though, like everything else in this world, depends on the person.
I think there is no universal moral code as morality shifts depending on the situation. In this case imagine a man absolutely destitute, who's hit rock bottom and has no money. He's lost all of his money through no fault of his own, and he has three kids to feed, with no money to feed them with. His only resort left is to steal- what then of the idea that stealing is wrong, if he's doing it to prevent the death of his only children? Now just imagine a man who steals simply for the sake of stealing-- what he's doing is wrong as it's disadvantaging him for no other reason for the sake of it- nobody benefit's form the action whereas in the former example him and his children benefits. A universal moral code would have to be completely inelastic, yet here it's shown to be completely elastic.
Different cultures and individuals have different standards of right and wrong. Moral standards also change overtime in the same culture. For example slavery was considered moral in the United States at one time but not anymore. Also this paragraph is pointless and I'm HIV positive, I also suffer form severe lack of Vitamin G. There is no universal rule that defines right or wrong. Instead, morality is determined by the standards of a person’s own authorities, these authorities might be a government, a religion or even a family member.
Although in modern society, because the world is 'shrinking' and becoming more diverse, what is wrong and what is right has become more or less accepted through out the world, there is still no universal moral code. Take for example, the recent violence in the muslim world, which is supposedly caused by a youtube video disrespecting the prophet Muhammed. In western society, killing people just for expressing their opinion is unacceptable. But in the middle east, it is justified. Differences in the moral code for human beings become more apparent when the world was not as interdependent as it is today. One example would be between the Native Americans and the European colonists. The Europeans believed that it is perfectly fine to buy and sell land, and that it is acceptable to conquer land. However, in Native American society, there is no concept of owning land, they believed it to be wrong to fight over land. The moral code of a society is affected by many factors: current leadership, geography, their history etc. and as it is impossible for every human being to have the same of those factors, the moral code is not universal.
What some may call as "wrong" is actually not "wrong" but simply not falling in place with their ideology/beliefs. But is there any absolute ideology? I don't think so and from what everybody can clearly see we haven't anytime in the past reached that before. I also think we haven't reached that state of mental potential even now, or that we will ever do. It's just the way reality is. And when things feel real, in reality these things are just in adaption to the surrounding conditions. And how can something that seems good given only to something else or because of the right conditions being involved, be an universally positive (good) action?
Ethical relativism means that different cultures have different moral codes, and I think this is because there is no universally agreed-upon moral code. For example, in some cultures, it is considered "moral" and "normal" to eat your father after he has died. Likewise, in the United States, it is equally "moral" and "normal" to bury or burn your dead. There is no moral code that is universally agreed upon.
Morality is constantly changing. People's beliefs, values and ideas are constantly evolving. What was labeled as wrong 20 years ago, is accepted today, and what is labeled as wrong today, will probably be accepted in the near future. Every culture and sub-culture have different social standards in what is accepted as 'good'. I do not believe that there is an overall moral code in which everyone follows universally, because we as individuals have different ideas in what we believe as moral correct, that is what makes us an independent species.
Think about our past... why was murder considered 'bad?' It was considered bad because it hindered the social cohesion. Losing a member could mean losing a valuable hunter, negotiator, etc., and a murderer could be seen as distrustful. It's not the act that was considered 'bad,' but what it does to social cohesion. Think Roman Empire or ancient Hibernia, think about murders there and how they were handled!
In other words, the fact that such a survey exists is a proof that there isn't an universal moral code. Even in extreme cases like murder, etc. there will be someone who genuinely believes there's nothing wrong with that. We may deem him insane, and exclude him from society, but his existence alone makes the code not universal.
Moral codes are relative simply because Laws and what is considered socially acceptable differs so much based on religion or the lack there of. Geography is also a big factor in what a moral code may consist of. There are so many factors that affect what a person or group of persons might consider immoral. Personal and cultural philosophies is another factor that shapes one's moral code. If there is a universal moral code it looks like a huge Venn diagram which means it is not at all universal. Morals are universal we all have them but the code is personal no two are exactly alike.
Calling it a universal code is what makes it invalid. People are not a monolith; there is what is common to the point of near-universal acceptance, but the outliers still count. Who we currently consider mentally ill, such as psychopaths who have no emotion for regret or feeling wrong, are still people. They aren't held to 'the code' because nature didn't give it to them. The vast, vast, vast majority of people find murder abhorrent, but if just one does not, it is no longer universally abhorred. There is a common moral code, undoubtedly, but calling it universal an overstatement that dehumanizes outliers.
[And that, my friends, is frankly immoral.]