Measurable effects of morality, part 2

In part one, I focused on measuring morally bad with a special focus on violent crimes; theft and greed. I will now look at measuring morally good, and will also examine the implications of what isn’t measurable. I will also tie part one and two together with the overall objective morality argument.

We may be able to measure morally good, by asking, what measurable effects an act has on society. Giving money to cancer or AIDS research, could result in a cure being found one day, although this could be questioned by looking at the actual ambitions of the pharmaceutical companies who will make more money if they have long term treatments rather than quick cures. Giving of time or money to help starving children in Somalia or other impoverished countries, can potentially have measurable effects, but unless those kids go on to make huge changes to society, it would be tough to measure. The kids could also become criminals, in which case, you may have done a measurable disservice to society. I could sit and speculate all day, but it would be easier to examine an incident that human rights groups screamed immoral at.

The restricted family size in China is often used as an example of violating a human right, people have the right to chose how many children they want. Years later, we see China as a superpower, and their population isn’t suffering the adverse effects that rapid population growth through the 70s and 80s would have caused. Therefore, we could argue that the act wasn’t only not immoral, but measurably moral. This is a good example of subjective versus objective. Subjectively, people feel that your family decisions are your right. The utilitarian response by the Chinese government turned out to be best for society. The immoral acts that it caused, with parents killing their children because they wanted a particular gender, can’t be laid on the government, except that they didn’t manage to get a handle on it. The government was acting in the interests of its people, and achieved their goal.

People will start asking at some point about homosexuality; inter racial marriages and various other things, and these are considered moral issues, but if they show no definable results, it doesn’t make them morally sound, just not measurable on an objective morality scale. I’m not saying either of these is immoral, or moral, I’m just saying that we can’t measure their morality. Things that have no measurable effect, are simply immeasurable, not good; bad or indifferent, just undefined. We must remember this, since many decisions we make in life could have a moral implication, the fact that it isn’t immediately obvious, or that we haven’t actually found a way to measure it doesn’t make it an amoral issue, or automatically moral. It is in this area that morality will to some extent be subjective, but I feel, individuals have a duty to consider a utilitarian objective approach before simply rushing to judge on emotion.

The major problem, I feel, and the evidence seems to support it, with an objective morality, is that people prefer certain personal rights over the greater good, and would therefore, as in the China example, argue that human rights violations are being committed instead of examining the possible beneficial effects of the situation, or the adverse effects of the alternative. If someone wanted to legislate against greed, they’d be called communist, and the legislation would, no doubt, bear some resemblance to communism, which itself seems to cause a greed for power. We, as the human race, don’t seem mature enough for self governance and greed in free market societies shows this, but that doesn’t alter the fact that moral measurements can be made, and therefore morality is an objective issue, morality can be judged via reality, and subjectivity is about not making judgements based on reality, but on personal feelings.


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