I was flipping through The New York Times Magazine last night when an article on bumper stickers caught my eye. Now I, personally, am not a fan of bumper stickers, too permanent for my tastes, especially the political ones. I guess permanancy is a good thing if your candidate was the victor, but when your candidate loses… Anyway, here is the section that got my wheels turning:
Jack Bowen, who teaches philosophy at Menlo School in Atherton, Calif. In a recent book called “If You Can Read This: The Philosophy of Bumper Stickers,” he not only thinks about bumper stickers but takes them seriously, evaluating the underlying worldviews they express.
Consider, for example, the sticker “Against Abortion? Then Don’t Have One!” The political point of view there is obvious enough. But, Bowen says, if we delve deeper, we find the suggestion that morality itself is up for grabs, resolved on a person-by-person, situation-by-situation basis. “This is not at all what we want to say morality is,” he says.
Not having thought that much about bumper stickers and the morality implications that they carry, this really made me think a bit. If I find something immoral, but you find it to be perfectly moral, does my not taking part remove it’s moral implications? Where does morality come from and is it a static ideal or is it indeed fluid, based upon the bearer’s perspective?
We’re taught that morals are a sort of compass for your conscience. As a society, we rely on morals to keep us from falling into anarchy. Therefore, morals must be more fixed than we would like to believe. When someone does something amoral: murder, theft, polygamy, pedophilia, even benign fetishes, we want to separate them from the rest of society, for the good of society, but the argument can be made that since the perpetrator doesn’t consider their actions to be amoral, are their actions really done without morals?
What are your thoughts? Are morals fluid or static? Are morals overrated?