Thursday, September 15, 2011

Why do something that's immoral?

I had an interesting conversation with a good friend of mine last night about the subject of morality, and how my moral compass has changed over the years.

I recently came to the realization that I am more comfortable with being immoral than I used to be.  It's not that I don't have a moral compass anymore, but perhaps it's more that I've been desensitized somehow to things that would normally give me pause.  Of course there are things that I would still never do: I'd never betray a friend, nor would I do anything to seriously harm another person.  But there are some things that I formerly would never do, but now it doesn't bother me.

I still recognize the intellectual fact that these things are immoral.  I'm not the type that tries to rationalize what I do so that I can sleep at night.  Maybe that's a bad thing, because I can do something that I know is immoral but still sleep at night.

Lets take downloading music for free as an example.  Back when Napster first came out I was all about ripping music off of it.  I can understand the fact that it is akin to stealing, because if I want to own the music for myself then I should probably pay the people who made it.  But did it bother me at all?  Hell no.  Actually, when Lars the douche from Metallicrap worked to make Napster a paid service, I was pretty damn upset about it.

"So you think morality is subjective," he asserted.  I don't think so.  I still recognize universal morals and the objectivity of morality.  Your own guilt and shame has nothing to do with your morals.  How many of you drive over the speed limit every day?  How many of you feel bad about it?  You've broken the law, and generally breaking the law is immoral.

So why do something that you know is immoral?  Well, probably because in some cases you'd rather fulfill your desire rather than adhere to the moral standard attatched to it, especially when the consequences of violating said standard are fairly low.

But aren't people supposed to become more entrenched in their morality as the years go on?  Why is it that some people stick to their guns more as age comes, yet others go backwards?  Perhaps the better question is why do something moral in an immoral world?  How moral can we really be when this existence doesn't always allow us to be?

6 comments:

Silverfiddle said...

Perhaps the better question is why do something moral in an immoral world? How moral can we really be when this existence doesn't always allow us to be?

That's a cop out.

This is a good discussion, but it's too generic. You need define the moral system you're grappling with. A moral utilitarian would have very different solutions to life's ills than would a Christian or Muslim.

You might find this David Brooks article interesting...

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/13/opinion/if-it-feels-right.html

Scotty said...

How many of you drive over the speed limit every day? How many of you feel bad about it? You've broken the law, and generally breaking the law is immoral.

But, it's only illegal if you get caught!! ;-0

Jack Camwell said...

Scotty, the shitty part is that there are a lot of people who believe that, lol.

Silver, I read that article, very interesting. I agree with everything it said.

It doesn't matter if you're utilitarian, a universalist, or a relativist. The question still stands: why would you do something you know is immoral? It's an individual question that we all have to ask ourselves.

Jack Camwell said...

To be more specific, the answer is going to be different for everyone. The utilitarian would say "well I'd do it if it was for the greater good." The relativist and universalist would likely have similar answers, because the morality has to do with just them and not people as a whole.

It's just something I've been grappling with recently. I guess the more specific question is why are we okay with doing immoral things in certain situations?

Jersey McJones said...

I don't rip movies or music. I'll watch or listen to it, but I don't steal it.

I thought about it, but really, it's not worth it.

There's nothing commercial out there that is worth doing time to see. Nothing.

American pop culture is plenty available without any sort of copywrite piracy.

How do you copywrite stupidity?

JMJ

Harrison said...

You see Jack, sometimes the "why" of a matter are important.