It seems to me that a major problem with such discussions is the lack of grounding in pertinent context. We’re a social primate species and consequently evolved to feel certain things in certain contexts due to selection pressures. Thus we feel that cheating (however you care to define it) is wrong, unless we’re the ones doing the cheating. We feel angry when someone harms us. We feel we want to help close kin. The list of examples is very long but these few will suffice to make the general point.

Now, because we have language and because language tends to be very vague (e.g. “I love my son” and “I love vanilla ice-cream” are clearly very different but the word “love” is used in both cases and in a thousand others, without any attempt at adequate definition) we get confused when we move from specific to general. Our pattern-seeking brains are quite simple, so we fail to see the logical error we make when we attempt to reify from something concrete. Morality is merely one of the many intellectual quick-sands we step into.

The question of whether or not moral values can be absolute is in fact far easier to answer by making reference to the famous trolley-car thought experiment. One can answer the question of what to do in a variety of ways but none are strictly “moral” in the sense usually understood. This alone demonstrates that there can be no universal objective morality.

Once we understand this we can move on from pointless discussions about a non-issue and address instead more pertinent problems pertaining to our real-world interactions with others. And there is no shortage of these, so it’s long past time we applied more pragmatic focus here.

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Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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