This is part three of what would be the impact of objective morality? That post focused on atheism, the second post then focused on Christianity, and the moral compass argument. This post will discuss the impact on society in general, since I think this is the major obstacle for achieving a society that gets it’s morals from science.
Morality is seen by many to be a somewhat oppressive idea, since it obstructs certain personal freedoms, the best example is the restriction of sexual freedom, so I’ll go with that. Many ancient cultures had laws against sexual immorality, the definitions may have varied from culture to culture, but certain things were deemed immoral. Of course with all the STDs in the world today, we could argue that promiscuity is bad for society and by the standards fleshed out in the posts on objective versus subjective morality. That isn’t the issue here, what is the issue is that no matter how bad this may be for society, very few people (apart perhaps from religious fundamentalists) would be okay with someone telling them who they can or can’t sleep with, whether they’re backed by a scientifically formulated moral ideal or not.
Possibly one of our greatest fears about objective moral absolutes is that should we find ways of measuring we may find that certain things we deem as right or wrong will turn out to simply be incorrect based on observable data. Although in subjective morality I argued that we can’t really define rape as wrong if it is simply subjective, the truth be told, the possibility may exist that rape is a moral imperative (I did cover the measurable effects of violent crimes though.) The fact that enforced family size may have been a moral imperative for China doesn’t alter people saying that it was wrong for such laws to impinge on peoples’ right to choose family size. To ignore that morality can be objective on these grounds is insincere, rather we need to accept that morality is a choice, we as people value the right to choose to go against moral values, even the ones we agree with, as is evident in the discrepancies between many peoples’ religious beliefs & their behaviour.
The conclusion here is that, although science may well be able to shed light on some, perhaps many, moral questions, society will likely not accept a moral equation as legally binding, & the democratic process will likely remain the rule of law.