Eastern Michigan University professor John Koolage raised the question that keeps people tossing and turning at night, “Should I?”
Koolage, a professor of philosophy, presented a lecture discussing the question Sept. 18 at EMU’s Student Center ballroom. The talk is just one of many lectures being presented by the college in a series called, “Just Because We Can, Should We?”
The professor addressed the philosophy behind different theories. In his presentation, he talked about the notion of how the individual can make their personal decisions based on their own principles. Those principles, however, may not adhere with what other societies view as morals.
Cultural values and moral values go hand-in-hand, he said.
“The question is, just because we can, should we?” Koolage asked.
An example Koolage offered as part of a moral theory was whether or not people viewed performing CPR on someone, or sacrificing themselves during war by throwing themselves on a grenade as morally right.
“Being blown up by a grenade is not the kind of thing that makes my life feel better,” Koolage said. “That should be something I should do, morally speaking.”
The “should I” question was then framed in regards to matriculating.
As for the college query, Koolage acknowledged many aspects, such as an individual’s desire to further their education and potential for higher earnings. Koolage said that whether or not one determines that college is the path to take depends on if the student actually achieves their goals.
EMU student Gabby Ducharme, who attended the lecture, said college is hard the first semester, but people will learn how to adjust.
“I feel like you should definitely stick with [college],” she said.
Koolage explained that subjectivism means a person’s view is “unquestionable.” If this is the case, then an individual’s concept of their beliefs is morally right to them and they are never wrong.
This, Koolage said, makes them somewhat morally infallible within their psyche.
What makes things true to the average person and morally correct is simply because that person has a strong faith in that belief. The theory of subjectivism says one can never be wrong.
Koolage also delved into the theory of cultural relativism: The belief of looking at the principles, morals and practices of a culture from the perspective of that ethos itself. Koolage said that the concept of moral realism philosophizes that cultural relativism has a basis of turning beings into good people. He also noted that what one country’s values are might not be another’s.
Koolage said cultural tolerance, on the other hand, is the belief that although there are disagreements, the one person accepts this notion that the other is different.
“It’s different from patience,” he said, adding that patience usually involves the individual recognizing the other person is wrong in their mind and they will wait until the other party changes views.
Koolage said that morals and values are passed down through generations, but people typically decide what is morally right for them.