Elastic nature of human morality
Editor's Choice
Category: Article
Author: Nitin Kumar
Season 6

Human beings are inherently calculative creatures, often navigating their actions through a myriad of variables such as feelings, situations, emotions, necessities, and perceptions of others. At the heart of these considerations lies morality, a dynamic concept that isn’t as rigid as our principles might suggest. This article aims to delve into the elasticity of human morality, exploring instances where it bends and adapts to different circumstances.

Let’s begin by defining morality. It encompasses a set of personal or social standards dictating what is considered good or bad behaviour and character. However, quantifying morality is elusive—it’s intangible and cannot be measured. Nonetheless, we can evaluate it, basing our assessments on three primary parameters: an individual’s perception, their experiences, and the situations they encounter. These factors play pivotal roles in shaping and moulding human morality.

The perception of an individual serves as a fundamental aspect of their morality. Shaped by their environment, community, ethnicity, and culture, perception influences how individuals interpret the world around them. For instance, conservatives and radicals may have starkly contrasting views on certain issues due to their differing perceptions. While conservatives might adhere rigidly to tradition and culture, radicals might embrace flexibility, championing freedom of choice. This demonstrates how perception can bias morality, leading individuals to act accordingly.

Experience serves as another influential factor in shaping morality. Through repeated encounters, individuals develop their moral compasses, which can tilt in response to various stimuli. For instance, observing corrupt individuals amassing wealth and power through immoral means may prompt others to abandon their own moral principles in pursuit of similar gains. Similarly, experiencing betrayal may lead individuals to question their inherent trust in others, thereby altering their moral outlook.

Situations also play a crucial role in determining moral choices. Often, individuals find themselves compelled to act contrary to their moral beliefs when faced with desperate circumstances. For example, being forced to choose between saving twenty people or saving one presents a moral dilemma where the individual must prioritize between two competing goods. Likewise, a hungry child stealing bread to survive illustrates how dire situations can prompt morally questionable actions, challenging societal norms.

These three pillars—perception, experience, and situation—form the foundation of human morality, highlighting its inherent flexibility and adaptability. Despite our inclination to view morality in black-and-white terms, it exists in shades of gray, reflecting the complexities of ethical decision-making. Our moral compasses, far from being rigid, are constantly evolving in response to changing conditions, making them unique to each individual.

In conclusion, morality remains a paradoxical aspect of human existence, intricately woven into our ethical landscape. While we may use it as a tool to delineate between right and wrong, morality’s true essence lies in its ability to navigate the gray areas, where the most viable options often lie. As we navigate the complexities of moral decision-making, we must recognize the fluidity and adaptability of our moral compasses, embracing the nuances that shape our ethical judgments.

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