Morality is a form of social technology – it is context specific and can go out-of-date

Jason Mckenzie Alexander in IAI News:

In 1920, the U.S. introduced a nationwide ban on alcohol by passing the Eighteenth Amendment. It lated reconsidered and repealed the ban in 1933 with the passage of the Twenty-first Amendment.  In 2015, the killings prompted by the Charlie Hebdo cartoons made westerners acutely aware of prohibitions against representations of the Prophet Muhammed in Wahabbist Islam. Yet there exist examples of Islamic art from the 13th and 15th centuries, which freely contain such representations. And, lest we forget, the history of Christianity also features people like John Calvin, who not only banned representations of God, but, like the Taliban, forbade dancing as well, and condemned music as being sinful.

Extreme disagreements over what people consider morally permissible exist, yet despite all these recognised historical variations in conceptions of morality, people generally hold their moral beliefs to be correct. Stepping back and taking an anthropological point of view, we seem to be wired to have the capacity for morality, while allowing for variability in what is understood to be moral. What’s going on?  Is it the case that every society which came before us, or which coexists with us, that has different moral beliefs, is mistaken? Or is there a more subtle and nuanced way to understand moral differences?

More here.