Can morality exist?

by kangcuzzi

I was just watching a video online that dealt with the question of morality, and I had a thought. In the video, a professor described a situation in which four sailors were stuck at sea, without food or water, for a total of 24 days. At one point, three of the more powerful men decided to kill the fourth boy (who was ill) in order to survive. Was this the morally correct thing to do?

During the conversation, a question arose: the three men who made the decision to kill the boy all had families to feed; does this circumstance then justify their killing? This kind of thinking would fall under categorical moral reasoning, the act of ‘categorizing’ actions into what’s moral and what’s not based upon the circumstances and situations that make the action what it is. This would be the opposite form of reasoning from consequential moral reasoning, which is basically utilitarianism – the ultimate outcome is what matters the most, the means through which it is reached is secondary. 

Anyways, I was thinking about that question for a while. If we decide it was justified for the three men to kill the boy, we’re basically thinking in the categorical sense. But if you think about it, our justice system hardly ever follows categorical moral reasoning; a lot of the time when it comes to smaller crimes, such as theft, a consequentialist approach is adopted. So if we think it IS moral for the men to kill the boy (if we’re considering the categorical impact of the situation), then is our justice system – which is tilted towards consequentialist tendencies – immoral? In that case, is our justice system a justice system at all? If yes, then what is justice? Can morality truly exist?

The justice system is there to provide justice, and justice is accepted as ‘moral’. If justice were not given, it would be ‘immoral’. So if our justice system didn’t exist, then would that be a crime to morality? But if our justice system acted in an immoral way, would that be a crime to morality too?

All these questions… the world can be an extremely confusing place, but it’s interesting to see how some things aren’t infallible after all – they’re creations of the human mind, and just like every other creation of the human mind, they have loopholes too.