Westermarck writes, “…a theory which leads to an examination of the psychological and historical origin of people’s moral opinions should be more useful than a theory which postulates moral truths enunciated by self-evident intuitions that are unchangeable”. Agree or disagree and give your reasons.

Topic: “…a theory which leads to an examination of the psychological and historical origin of a people’s moral opinions should be more useful than a theory which postulates moral truths enunciated by self-evident intuitions that are unchangeable”.

 

Westermarck was telling us that there are no absolute standards in morality and that moral truth is relative.  The reason for his approach is that each person has a moral conscience that is unique.  One cannot apply a standard theory of philosophical thought to each person, because each person’s morality is predicated upon the way he or she was brought up.  Virtue Ethics deals with a person’s character, and the formation of that character has its beginnings at an early age by what that person was taught.  Westermarck and Aristotle have similar thought processes involving an individual.  Aristotle believed that moral virtue is product of habit learned from an early age.  Westermarck thought that moral views were based upon subjective factors.  Subjective habits are learned from parents, teachers, and life experiences unique to an individual.  A consciousness of morality is derived from those teachings and experiences learned in youth. These moral thoughts were a product of reflection of what had been taught overtime, and which would become rational expressions of individual morality as an adult.  Is it not true that the virtue of person is based upon what his or her moral conscience consists of?  The psychological effects of these teachings and experiences gleamed in youth cannot be discarded as mere sophomoric intrusions of moral liabilities against the standards of morality, but must be considered an integral component for the search of moral truth.  Westermarck’s theory is just as valid as any other moral theory.