Skeptics or moral knowledge believe that moral reasoning is usually based upon matters of taste and preferences. They insist that moral reasoning is usually deducted depending on how we feel as a person, our knowledge and understanding of the event from past events and the effect of the consequences after the event. For example, if I were to say “drugs are good” is no different to saying that “I like the colour blue”.
Before I used to think that moral relativism was judged upon how we deduct and conclude what is “wrong” and what is “right” based on the situation we are put in. However, after doing a bit of research, I found out that moral relativism actually meant how our cultural values affect our decision making and the idea of morals
What is wrong? and what is right? is there even such a thing as being wrong or right?
-Do we judge a situation as being wrong or right because of our parents influence?
-Does the environment affect our moral decisions?
-Do we base our moral decisions on God? To what extent does religion affect our morals?
-Does the law affect our decision making?
In order to judge whether a situation is considered wrong or right, we have to take into account other factors that might influence the decision making process.
Standford Jail Experiment
Twenty-four male students were selected to take on the roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.
During the experiment, the guards were entitled to enforced strict rules and regulations and ultimately subjected some of the prisoners to torture. Many of the prisoners accepted psychological abuse and, at the request of the guards, readily harassed other prisoners who attempted to prevent it. The experiment even affected Zimbardo who permitted the abuse to continue.
For example, Guards forced the prisoners to repeat their assigned numbers to reinforce the idea that this was their new identity. By doing so, the prisoners no longer felt human, and from this abuse, they were left to feel like objects. The guards also used physical punishment such as protracted exercise for errors in the prisoner count. Some also refused to allow prisoners to urinate/defecate in their cell, as a result sanitary conditions declined rapidly. These are only some of the measures that were taken during the experiment.
The results of the experiment have demonstrated the obedience of people when given a set of rules, and ideologies to follow. It also proves the cognitive dissonance theory as well as the power of authority.
This experiment ties in nicely with the topic of ethics as it not only questions our morals of whether or not Zimbardo was right to carry out this experiment, but it also shows us how our environment and peers can influence our decision-making process as well as our moral judgements.