Ask ten people on the street whether or not extra marital sex is morally acceptable and I guarantee that you will receive more than two distinct and different answers. The answers would be more than simple yes or no responses and the reasoning for each would have it’s own unique edge even if it was similar to another individual’s response. So what would be the correct answer? Well, the point here is, we can’t tell just by asking a few people. There are so many different moral viewpoints that we just aren’t too sure what is true if we look at morality in this light. Even simple questions become a hard task in light of so many varying viewpoints. It would seem that almost anything goes. If this is true and there isn’t any actual consensus answer in the world, does morality come from majority rule and not from truth? I would argue that examining the moral question through this lens is inherently flawed. Anything goes really isn’t the way that systems work in this universe and our society and human experience is subject to systems on several levels. Just because ethics and morals are hard to define does not mean that they don’t exist. I have trouble defining the mind but I do have one (though my wife may disagree). Common sense and general consensus come from somewhere in our social interaction and the process of ethical deliberation which means that morals and ethics are formed in relation to identity and identification. The main issue at hand, then, is where do we, as ethical agents and creators of mores and taboos, get our identity from. If our self identity is formed through socialization alone, it is derived fully from external creations and physical circumstance. This means that those moral beliefs proposed and supported in this way are distorted by a false sense of self. Being that the social sphere is influenced and created by human beings, it offers an incomplete set of informants for our identity to shape itself from. We need both the external world and the self reflective sense of “I”. If we are to make more true moral statements, they must come from a higher understanding of self and be drawn out of the human being and into the human experience. The common identity shared by each person lies in their humanity. We are all human beings at the basic level. This identity, being shared, should be the starting point for all moral deliberation as it strips social and inconsequential factors from the initial judgment. Asking what I, as human, would have done for me, is an excellent way to go about one’s business. Dissimilarity tells us about what doesn’t fit but ultimately separates us from one another. But our shared humanity offers an equality that affords us the opportunity to transcend the anything goes and the nothing is allowable mentalities.
So when we approach situations of moral debate, we have to look deeper than societally based self identity conformity. Take, for instance a case like the Hulk Hogan scandal. What really bothers us most is the humanity that we share with him and not so much the fact that he had “relations” with his daughter’s much younger (Hulk was wrestling before the question mark was invented) friend. That’s right Hulkamaniacs. The Hulkster and you are just the same in your humanity. Feeling let down with him is actually feeling let down with oneself. Or, if you feel like he has increased his level of cool by a number that needs to be scientifically notated, you feel like you became cooler vicariously. It is natural and usually mistaken for jealously or blaming when examined superficially. Those feelings are feelings about ourselves in actuality. We see them as moral relativism when we have ethical deliberation processes that are malformed by incomplete or askew self identities. If we were to approach the same situation with this fact in mind, we would focus less on condemning or high fiving Hollywood Hogan and shift the view to what matters most; what does this say about the human condition and is this consistent with what humans, in fact, are? While there is no immediate and definite answer to these two questions, the debate is now focused properly and the issue of relativism is null. We may not be able to find a definite morality from this method easily, but I assure you, pointing fingers at the shadows we cast isn’t nearly as effective as examining the caster when the light hits them.