How do *you* define morality? Three options and a challenge

I saw that Brian Auten tweeted this thought-provoking post from Come Reason Ministries

He starts with this:

In my posts on natural marriage and the recent Supreme Court decision on DOMA, I had made the claim that the Supreme Court cannot define morality. There are many people in the world who will claim that simply because an action is legal it is thus moral; I argue that the former does not necessarily imply the latter. But others have been confused on how I can make such a claim. So, I’d like to back up a bit and talk about just what I mean when I speak of morals and morality. 

The study of morality—what it is, how we come to know it, and its distinctions—is a field of study known as ethics. There are several ethical theories on just what morality is, but I will focus on the three main ways people define moral principles: the emotive definition of morality, the subjective definition of morality, and objective definition of morality.[1]Within the objective view, there are two more subsets: morality stemming from the nature of man and morality that transcends man’s nature.

It lists 3 views of morality:


And then he explains each one.

I think that it is tremendously difficult to make sense of morality unless morality is objective. In my set of marriage questions for women, I wrote about how important the idea of objective morality is for marriage:

4. The moral argument

What is the is-ought fallacy? What is the difference between moral objectivism and moral relativism? Give one reason why moral relativism is false. Give one reason why an atheist cannot rationally ground prescriptive morality. Explain why objective morality relates to God’s existence.

SAMPLE ANSWER: Explain the is-ought fallacy. Explain objective and subjective morality. Discuss the reformer’s dilemma and how it refutes relativism. Explain that atheism requires materialism, and materialism denies free will – so moral choices are impossible. Outline the moral argument.

BONUS POINTS: Give more than one reason where only one was asked for, refute attempts to assert objective morality on atheism, explain how moral obligations are related to God’s design for humans.

WHY IT MATTERS: You can’t marry a person who thinks that the moral law is not a brake on their desire to be happy. There are going to be times in the marriage when self-sacrifice is required by the moral law – either for you, for God, or for the children. It will not be easy to be moral then, so you are looking for someone who thinks that morality is real, and not subject to their feelings and whims. It might be worth asking the person when she has had to do the right thing when it was against her self-interest, like those valedictorians who name Jesus in their speeches and then get censored.

It’s scary that people have let behind the notion of morality as a real, objective thing. What I see emerging from that is that the weakest people in society (unborn and born children) will suffer from the selfish decisions of the adults. I’ve been warning about that for a while now.

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