Moral Judgments

Everyone makes moral judgments, even those who say, You shouldn’t make moral judgments. That statement itself is a moral judgment. As soon as someone says, You should, or even I, we, they should … or, shouldn’t … they’ve made a moral judgment.

If the idea is that something should be better, there’s a judgment that it isn’t as good as it could be. Implied also is the existence of a standard against which the current thing is being measured.

“You shouldn’t make moral judgments,” then, is a judgment. It is not saying that the listener isn’t capable of making moral judgments, but that life would be better for all if people didn’t make moral judgments. In extreme cases, a person might mean that it is actually wrong to make such judgments.

But how can someone who doesn’t believe moral judgments are right, or that life is better without them, make such a moral judgment? The statement itself demonstrates that everyone, even those who don’t realize it about themselves, makes moral judgments.

In today’s relativistic society, the going belief is that what is true for you may not be true for me. But that truth statement is a moral judgment — an absolute declaration saying that absolute truth does not exist.

Relative thinkers want to make absolute statements to propound their beliefs, but in doing so, they disprove the relativism they say they believe.

Relativism is similar to saying, All ideas are good. Your idea. My idea. The idea someone in China has or in India or Iraq. It’s fine to respect other people’s opinions and culture. But what if our ideas conflict? Are all ideas still good?

What about the idea that not all ideas are good? Is that idea good? How can it be when it says the opposite of “all ideas are good”? The relativist says, All ideas are good for me and all ideas are not good for you. But he has made a moral judgment about my idea, limiting it in scope to accommodate his idea. In essence, he is saying his belief that all ideas are good is a notch truer than my belief that not all ideas are good. He has given a higher value to his statement.

Discussion about relativism and moral judgment can quickly take on the feel of a circular argument, but in actuality, if relativists weren’t making moral judgments, there would be no debate, no discussion, and certainly no argument.

But the fact is, everyone is making moral judgments. People who like a blog post or rate it as one star or five or anything in between are making value judgments. People commenting are making value judgments. People who stop reading part way through are making value judgments.

The question, then, isn’t should we make moral judgments. We do — that’s a simple fact. The question ought to be, on what should we base our judgments? And that will take a bit more thought.

Published in: on April 24, 2012 at 6:59 pm  Comments (7)  
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7 Comments

  1. True, the closest Jesus ever came to saying such a thing was the time he was really calling out the human tendency to see–and condemn–in others the sins we most hate in ourselves. He said to deal with our own sin problem first, then we’ll be able to see clearly to help our brothers. Not that our sound byte culture has the time to read the Lord’s whole argument and consider the first three words of it in context. 😉

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  2. Morality, like you said, implies a standard, and thus a standard Maker. To combat this logic, evolutionist want to make a biological reason for morality in humans (although it doesn’t exist in animals). If you think about it, most conduct universally accepted as moral doesn’t promote survival of the fittest. Don’t kill, rape, steal, lie, cheat – but treat your neighbor as you’d want to be treated. That’s no way to get ahead on the evolutionary ladder.

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  3. […] thinking about Moral Judgments yesterday, I ended with this: The question, then, isn’t should we make moral judgments. We do […]

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  4. Andrea, great points. We take Christ’s admonition out of context and distort His meaning, I’m afraid. And yes, our short, shorter, shortest way of thinking is robbing us of a lot of Scriptural meaning. Which is why I think it’s important for us to talk about these things as often as possible.

    Becky

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  5. Bob, those are great observations. You are absolutely right. If there is a moral standard, then it had to come from somewhere because animals are not moral beings. They don’t have a law against murder, for example.

    And yes, scientists are trying to find centers in the brain where morality originates. Even if there is such a thing, that doesn’t answer the evolutionist question you brought up. How is it we have a moral compass and animals have yet to open up a homeless shelter? 😉

    Becky

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  6. […] this short series about moral judgments, I concluded in the first post that we all make them and in the second that there needs to be a standard by which to make them […]

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  7. […] said plenty about Moral Judgments in the earlier posts here, here, and here, but one more thing jumps out at me. Anyone who believes truth is relative is on […]

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