This is an essay I submitted for my philosophy paper this semester. I have included the comments from the marker at the end for those of you who are interested.
Is morality just subjective?
Morality is just subjective. We all view the world in a subjective manner, and morals are not exempt from this. In this essay I will use arguments for marijuana use and against marijuana use by pro-drug and anti-drug groups to prove that a person’s morals purely depends on the way that they view the world around them. It is a person’s values and perception of the world that determines their morals and what they consider to be ‘moral facts’.
A person who is a member of an anti-marijuana group believes marijuana use is morally wrong. This belief predetermines the facts they search for and find credible. Accordingly, there is nothing morally wrong with marijuana usage if the person belongs to a pro-marijuana lobby. They also determine facts in the same way as a person who is anti-marijuana. These could be considered as ‘moral facts’, but is there such a thing?
How can something be good, yet simultaneously bad? James and Stuart Rachels do not believe there are such things as ‘moral facts’ and sum up the idea behind Ethical Subjectivism:
People have different opinions, but where morality is concerned, there are no “facts”, and no one is “right”. People just feel differently, and that’s all there is to it.
This explains how both the anti-marijuana lobby and the pro-marijuana can believe that they are morally correct at the same time. They both believe they have the facts on their side. How can marijuana be a gateway drug to harder drugs and potentially destructive behaviour and criminal behaviour, while at the same time not having this effect at all? Both of these ‘facts’ put forward by pro-marijuana and anti-marijuana groups are in direct contradiction with each other. They cannot both be factually correct at the same time.
“Moral truths are truths of reason; that is a moral judgment is true if it is back by better reasons than the alternatives.” ‘Moral facts’ are only factual when back by reasonable evidence. Choosing the acknowledge some evidence, or skewing it to match your own values, such as what the pro and anti lobbists have done, is not a reasonable approach. This is letting your own morals and values get in the way of what is reason. It is self-fulfilling to then use this ‘evidence’ to back up your argument as to why your morals and values are correct, and the other person’s are wrong. This is how morality is subjective.
Pro-marijuana and anti-marijuana lobbies are two examples of how ‘moral facts’ are not factual. The evidence used to support these ‘facts’ is subjective. It is located with reason which is blocked by predetermined morality and values in its ability to truthfully determine what is reasonable and factual.
Parents. The Anti-Drug., (n.d) Drug information: Marijuana myths, retrieved 22 August
2011 from: http://www.theantidrug.com/drug-information/marijuana-facts/marijuana-myths.aspx
Rachels, J & S, (2010), The Elements of Moral Philosophy, 6th Ed., p. 33
Top Dutch, (n.d), The real truth: Behind the 10 most lied about myths, retrieved 22
August 2011 from: http://www.joint-rolling-guide.com/marijuana-myths-and-facts.html
You attempt to provide a consistent argument in defence of your claim that morality is
subjective. However, your argument isn’t convincing because you fail to analyse the
issues fully or to extend your argument..
You make general claims about the ‘moral facts’, but do not clearly define what you mean.
The marijuana debate is merely one example, in which biases are obvious. You need a
greater range of examples to justify your argument.