Bioethics Blogs

Four things Christians need to know about ethics #1

Realizing that there is objective moral truth

We live in a culture in which many believe that moral values and norms are based primarily on how a person feels about the action or issue being considered. This is seen as a very personal thing. Christian Smith, who has studied a cohort of 18 to 30 year olds that sociologists identify as emerging adults, has concluded that many of them have not thought very deeply or clearly about the origin of their moral concepts, but still have a strong sense of knowing what is right and wrong. When asked specifically where these ideas come from they commonly say they are based on intuition or feelings. Along with this idea that moral values are based on personal feelings comes the idea that it is wrong and judgmental to say that someone else’s moral beliefs are wrong. This seems to be related to the idea that those moral beliefs are based on how that person feels and that no one should tell another person how they ought to feel. Smith calls this way of viewing morality moral individualism. In some ways this is similar to the ethical concept of moral relativism, but it is different because it is not a rational rejection of objective moral truth. Instead, the concept of objective moral truth has not been seriously considered.

This way of thinking is in contrast to the idea held by Christian ethicists and many other philosophical ethicists that there is objective moral truth. These different ways of seeing the nature of moral thoughts lead to distinct difference in how we interact with each other when we have conflicting ideas about what is right and wrong.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.