Morality Is Not One-Size-Fits-All
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Morality is not one-size-fits-all

How morality can be objective but not universal

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It's an idea that we've come to terms with hypothetically, in stories, but not in actuality. Nobody would contest such commonplaces as the classic, "With great power comes great responsibility," or "Do what you can with what you have." Yet this same notion requires some concrete extension.

Take, for example, the trendiness of sustainable consumer choices. It's wonderful to see a culture so joyously and artfully take up an extremely important call. We have recognized that though one individual's choices contribute very little, the collective effect is vital. On top of this utilitarian idea, the question of personal ethics has arisen. Essentially, though one individual's decision to buy a sustainably sourced item does not, on its own, make a difference, it does matter to that individual's degree of morality that they are not consuming products which were produced unethically.

But.

This conception of individual morality requires a bit more nuance. Yes, the wrongness of allowing products to be made through means involving the poor treatment of human beings or the environment is an objective truth. And we should make every deliberate effort within our abilities to purchase items from ethical sources. But the tragic and undeniable truth is that ethically sourced products are often more expensive. If an individual lacks the funds or material access to purchase in this manner, I suggest that whatever force of objective morality exists would be sympathetic. Items such as clothing and food are survival needs, and so people who struggle to attain such items at all should certainly be held to a different moral standard.

What this means, of course, is that those "on top" have an even bigger responsibility. Certainly, they have an absolute moral obligation to support the most ethical of companies and resources. At the same time, they face an additional duty to use their positions to challenge economic structures that require many consumers to purchase from unsustainable sources.

Wherever you stand, perhaps a more effective and even more moral move than adjusting our own consumer choices is larger scale advocacy to ensure that all resources are ethically attained, manufactured, and sold or distributed.

Furthermore, I must note that those with higher positions absolutely do have a greater moral obligation to, for example, pay taxes that contribute to programs for those in lower positions. They have a greater duty, too, to use their platforms to speak in respectful, empowering, and impactful manners. This idea can be supported from both a utility standpoint and from an individual moral one.

Certainly, as the Christian text suggests, "To whom much is given, much is expected."

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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