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Absolute moral code not necessary for moral behavior

Letter to the Editor | Sunday, November 18, 2007

I am writing this in response to Nathan Loyd’s letter “More to life than sex” (Nov. 16). In the final paragraph of his letter, Loyd offers to the reader a curious critique of moral relativism. He states that moral relativism “questions our ability to decide that extra-marital sexual activity is wrong.” I find it strange that he believes that moral relativism denies us the ability to decide the morality of certain actions. By claiming that no universal standard of morality exists, moral relativists allow themselves to judge the goodness of actions by whatever standard they choose. How does this stance obstruct an adherent’s ability to decide if “extra-marital sexual activity” is wrong? Believers of moral absolutism do not get to decide that extra-marital sexual activity is wrong because this fact would have already been decided a very long time ago. I believe that Loyd meant to say that moral relativism questions our ability to reaffirm that extra-marital sex is undoubtedly wrong.Loyd’s final sentence indicates that he does not have a firm grasp of the essence of moral relativism. He writes that this belief “would lead us to question our ability to say that theft, rape and murder are wrong, if for no other reason than that the people committing these crimes feel fulfilled by doing them.” Why should it be an issue for an individual to independently determine the morality of these actions? He states earlier that without an absolute moral code “we could have no law.” It is unclear whether he means that we would have no law, or if it is possible that we would have no law. Either way I find this view to be extremely disturbing. This line of thinking insinuates that without a certain absolute moral code to guide us, we could fall into a state of anarchy. I tend to have more faith in people than that.Here is a hypothetical for those who follow an absolute moral code (e.g. the Ten Commandments): If your code and all laws ceased existing at this very moment, what would you do? Would you commit murder or steal from the person sitting next to you? Hopefully you answered no. But why not? There is no code or authority figure to stop you! I would not commit these crimes because I care about humankind and value order in society. Perhaps people can have their own sets of beliefs as to what is right or wrong without an absolute moral code to guide them.I agree with Loyd when he writes that Christians “have the ability and right to say that a particular action is against [their] moral code.” However, this right should only extend as far as the rights of Muslims, Buddhists, and any other moral absolutists to do the same.

Kevin SherrinsophomoreAlumni HallNov. 18