The question of public morals is so confused it is no wonder that incoherence reigns. The question of religious, public, political, etc, morals simply reminds us that we have no real ethical standards at all by which to judge anything. The secular era has undermined the credibility of religious moral evaluation: the Old testament Mr. Sinai myth is itself a form of myth and propaganda and generates contempt for ethics. And politicians are hypocrites fronting lies, murder, machiavelli.
The political realm has been pervaded by Machiavellian amoralism and psychopathic political deceptions, from covert agency depravities to presidential drone murder, while the public realm is simply a chaos or Babel of moral languages. Politicians corrupt the public who sees behind their hypocritical fronts only to make that their model.
Is the religious really moral? It is interesting that the public moral core is in secular mode often superior to the religious, with a huge percentage of exceptions. Man has a natural moral sense, limited, flawed, inconsistent, yet somehow mysterious and often functional, and as often non functional. The influence of capitalism, darwinism, and value-free science philosophies is mostly noise…The relation to evolution must be there, but darwinists have utterly confused the issue.
Actually modern culture is operating blind on the question, and when it is not misled by politicians, advertisers, patriotic bilge, etc, it actually muddles through…
Who is there to solve the problem? Noone there to do that: religious preachers can’t do it, politicians are poisonous and can’t do it, the business world can only offer greed veiled in moral hypocrisy….the common man is on his own. Simple ordinary people often have a robust moral logic, however limited, but are open victims to politicians, capitalists, even religious preacher. The Old Testament (what to say of the New) is a pack of lies peddling on the ordinary and innocent for purposes of religious domination. Moses set in motion the moral fiasco of Israel.
It looks like there is no real public morality at all and noone who can offer any remedies. The public sphere is psychopathic, the religious sphere is defunct and infantile, the business realm is a field of capitalist hypocrisy…
Seems like Joe Public is out of luck, but a natural moral sense, if any, and however vague kicks in, with what result is unclear…
And then there is the law…the legal standard.
The situation defaults to that legalism which at least is something: theft, murder, etc, are the de facto norms of prohibition in the context of a legal code…So why, if politicians murder, and capitalists rob, do we have legal codes that outlaw theft, murder…? Why do politicians pretend to be virtuous? Why bother? It can hardly be of biblical origin. These are our leaders, do they deserve any respect?
We should note that moral incoherence is not a modern or secular phenomenon. The secular realm has an edge over religious or theistic morality. But it is pervaded by monstrosities, starting with Machiavelli. Preachers denouncing moral decay have a long history indeed.
We expect science to do this for us. It can’t and it won’t. Rather, the philosopher Kant offered one of the first systematic attempts at ethical foundations. While that model may have limitations, its gist shows the way, to some degree and may have clues to considering less coherent variants as forms of natural morality.But Kant was immediately beset with figures like Nietzsche, who has attracted a huge following, but he is a bit of a ‘two bit devil’: his reasoning can’t do justice to the classic phase of German philosophy around the time of Kant. His genealogy of morals is evolutionary wiseacring and speculation but his critique of moral codes is cogent: the ten commandments, really? But he couldn’t touch Kant. In fact, everyone who came later, including Hegel, who has no ethical system that I can see, is determined to finish off Kant. Kant distinguishes the noumenal and phenomenal. Scientists will be swift to destroy his thinking therefore: it grants no license to scientism and reductionist certainties, nor did Hegel much like that. Kant is there, alone, if you care to consider his obvious ‘solution’. Then came the utilitarians, et al…But the psychopaths received an immense gift from Nietzsche, and he could end up the new Moses, if he hasn’t already. But he is little more than a hustler. And what about Zarathustra? German soldiers got free copies of ‘Thus spake…’ in the trenches of WWI. But did Zarathustra really ‘thus spake…’. Nietzchean ventriloquism?
Kant is a reminder that like science, but very different, philosophy has a history and a futuristic search and aspiration: where least expected Kant’s ethical treatises showed that human intelligence can increase to resolve for the first time some post-religious secular common ethical foundation. It is the first modern secular ethical reasoning and remains the best, but makes many enemies with their own agendas. Some, many pseudo-philosophers, pronounce Kant’s ethical masterpiece a failure by philosophy’s own standard, indeed it is not exempt from critique, and attempted something very difficult close to impossible but it led ethics out of the wilderness of religious muddle and shows one key to a future standard of public morality. Theistic obsession, hallucinated ‘god’ as voice of conscience, or prayer are not the key to moral action. Kant parallels Newton as a source of innovations in the expectation of the future, relative to, say, the wilderness of religious pseudo-ethics.
Kant is a reminder of why we are confused and that we had no public ethics and had to self-evolve to create one. Till then were still in Tombstone where you have to ‘reach for it’. For that future effort, will you allow capitalist greed, presidential murder, imperialist genocide, Wall street depradations. ?? Even now they control public morality. Psychopaths, or moral idiots, are in charge. Before we had religious codes, phony. We must move to a smarter future where philosophy, reason, reasoning, beside the (ethically blind) science and some serious post-darwinian evolutionary insight can lead us to public morality for the first time. But it is hard to see how this can happen if preachers, politicians and capitalists are in the way. Throw in most philosophers.
We have all seen the self-righteous memes in our social media feeds, and the message is always some variation of the following: American morals are going to hell in a handbasket.