There’s a concept I’ve been playing with for a while, which I’ve termed Moral Drift. I’m not sure whether there are other names for the same concept, perhaps someone more widely read than I will comment.
I’ve been reading about morality, ethics, and philosophy generally, and one of the dichotomies often discussed is whether there are Absolute Morals, or Relative Morals.
Basically, if California says it’s ok for women to wear bikinis at the beach, but it’s uncool for women in conservative Muslim nations to cover everything except their eyes, but Saudia Arabia says that wearing a bikini is morally bad, and covering yourself is good, who gets to claim Rightness? Are morals relative to the society (or individual, or group, or other context) and no other group has the right to comment, or are morals absolute and There Is A Right Answer? People have Opinions about this topic, and I’m not going to dive into it further here.
Moral Drift ties into this. Regardless of the view of Relativism or Absolutism, it must be recognized that people in different cultures, groups, etc, believe that their way is correct, and not all these groups agree. I believe that the actions people see as Good or Bad are strongly tied into their social groups (which includes work, religion, nightlife, gaming, online, etc). The further a group is isolated from other groups, the greater the moral drift that will occur.
An example I like to use is the scandal of the members of the House of Lords in the United Kingdom, who were found to be rorting the expenses system. They are paid a nominal stipend for their service, and many felt it was their right to get the maximum use from the expenses system. Because the members of the House of Lords were so removed from society at large, their moral compass drifted in this area, and they considered their actions neutral to good. Obviously, when the story broke in the national news, there was bedlam. Arrests were made, Peers were jailed.
You could argue that London, as a group, has drifted morally from the United Kingdom at large. London (and other large cities) are much more liberal, much less conservative, than the villages and rural communities. You could also argue, that by not moving with the rest of the UK, that the rural communities are drifting conservatively, by not keeping up with the morals of the day of the rest of society. I’m looking at you, Daily Mail readers.
Gamergaters are a great example of moral drift. Gaming culture has become so insulated from the real world that some pretty ugly behaviour is seen as socially acceptable inside that group.
The same phenomenon affects furry. You can see that the sexual permissiveness inside of furry far outstrips that of society at large (I would argue that this is a good thing, but then, my moral compass has drifted with furry, right?).
Each group that is the subject of moral drift, relative to society at large, sees no problem with its behaviour, and it’s the Outsiders who need to understand reality better. As with Moral Absolutism, in some cases this behaviour is good (furry) and some cases harmful (House of Lords, Gamergaters).
It is for this reason that I think having a mixed society is good. Having “rich suburbs” and “poor suburbs”, or as we’ve seen recently in some London housing developments “poor doors” for the social housing recipients, increases the segregation of groups and increases friction between the groups. You naturally end up with a political party “for the rich” and one “for the poor/working-man”.
Having a good mix of people inside Furry is a good thing too, to prevent us drifting so far away from society at large as to cause real problems.