Rape is not wrong.
That’s what a male student told me on campus just the other day. Sure, he believed it was wrong, but he didn’t think it was absolutely wrong.
Because according to him, moral ‘absolutes’, or universal, binding moral ‘laws’ that stand over and above us, don’t exist: which means that everyone gets to ‘choose their own morality’.
And so, if a man truly believes that rape is right, then who are we to condemn him? After all, how can we condemn someone for breaking a (moral) law that doesn’t exist? Sure, we might not like it: our own legal system might put such a person behind bars: but that person didn’t do anything morally wrong.
At the very least, the intellectual honesty of this student was refreshing (if not deeply disturbing). But of course, you don’t have to think for too long to realise that there are serious problems with this view of ‘choose your own morality’.
If There Is No Universal Moral Law, Then Anything Is Permissible.
If morality is merely something that we get to make up for ourselves, then who’s to say what’s ultimately ‘right’, and what’s ultimately ‘wrong’?
The short answer: nobody.
Nobody gets to say what’s ultimately ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, because an ultimate, universal ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ doesn’t exist (in this view).
And so, everybody gets to choose ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ for themselves: everybody gets to make up their own morality.
Which means that we can’t judge or condemn other people for doing the ‘wrong’ thing: what standard are we going to judge them by? We’ve already admitted that universal moral standards don’t exist!
And yet, we condemn people like the Islamic State for brutally executing their victims: we are morally outraged when journalists are massacred for printing cartoons. We say that what the perpetrators did was ‘wrong’: we say they violated moral laws.
But how can we condemn such people for breaking moral laws that don’t exist?
We can’t. At least not if we’re being logically consistent.
Just as well then, that those who believe in a ‘choose your own’ view of morality, are inconsistent:
At The End of The Day, Nobody Lives According To The ‘Choose your own’ View Of Morality.
The ‘choose your own’ view of morality sounds so liberating and so modern. And to be honest, I’ve talked to an increasing number of people on campus that hold this view. And no, these people aren’t psychopaths: they’re intelligent, decent people.
But here’s the thing: these people still get very upset and morally outraged when they hear about ‘evil’ things going on in the world.
The student who came to the conclusion that ‘rape is not wrong’ got very upset (in the same conversation!) as he told me about a female friend that was raped.
And it’s the same with everyone else I’ve talked to who has this view: there is always some issue that leads them to say ‘that is morally wrong: that should not be allowed to happen’.
But again, how can you condemn any ‘evildoer’ for breaking moral laws that don’t exist?
Where Does This Type Of Thinking Lead To?
I get quite concerned when university students come to the conclusion that rape is not wrong.
However, it seems I’m not the only one concerned with this ‘choose your own’ view of morality. Writing in the (secular) New York Times, Philosopher Justin McBrayer had this to say about the large number of university students who have a ‘choose your own’ view of morality:
[Consistency] demands that we acknowledge the existence of moral facts. If it’s not true that it’s wrong to murder a cartoonist with whom one disagrees, then how can we be outraged? If there are no truths about what is good or valuable or right, how can we prosecute people for crimes against humanity? If it’s not true that all humans are created equal, then why vote for any political system that doesn’t benefit you over others?
Great questions. And let’s hope that those who hold to the ‘choose your own’ view of morality come to see the inconsistency of their position, before they become consistent in their worldview.