Paula Erizanu at the IAI:
What is your view regarding the idea that there might be a subjective or objective morality?
I think it’s very difficult to make the case for an objective morality if you’re using the word ‘objective’ in a strong sense, either to mean a universal morality or a foundational morality that all people everywhere understand and accept in a globalising world.
Ironically, I think the issue arises because individuals and institutions are aware of the existence of conflicting, even incommensurable, moral values and normative orders – subjective and objective, private and public – but, for a range of strategic or exigent reasons, they want to normalize them, render them congruent or consensual.
By talking about “individuals and institutions”, I suppose I am already blurring the line between public and private, “subjective” and “objective”. Many of the pressing political movements of our times – Black Lives Matter, MeToo – display the problematic moral balance between personal morality and public, professional ethics. When there is a vast imbalance in gender power, when a person is in a position to alter the circumstances of another, sexual “consent” is a very problematic issue. You do not have to be a crass predator to be aware, even in the “heat” of the moment, that you are taking undue advantage of a colleague or a client or a friend, and putting them in an “impossible” situation. Institutional power is being deployed, however subtly or significantly, to achieve a coerced compliance or an exploitative outcome.