There are many needs that are pressing upon our globe today, which ones will make the "cut" as the ultimate need? Moral sentiment usually drives what people claim are the moral imperatives. Such sentiment is one's personal desired outcomes. And these are driven by prioritizing personal values, even the "objective ones".
Humanists value human rights as a universal standard. These people have chosen to universalize Western cultural values. But, the United Nations has made exception to Islam, giving them the right to Islamic law. How can two conflicting values be held by an organization? Don't we have to make discriminations about what is of ultimate value and how do we do that?
Neuroscientists have argued that our brains determine much of what we desire and value. Is the brain determined by one's cultural experiences or is the brain innatedly endowed with certain desires?
Obviously, all humans have the need for sustenance. Physical needs are not choices of value, but are objective needs. Humanists would be driven to meet these needs as of foremost importance. But, what of emotional needs and attachments? Are these just as important?
In Maslow's hierarchy of needs, such needs are secondary to physical needs. And this is where we find America today, debating what is needed in our nation's budget. One politician claimed that we could not cut entitlement spending, as it was "immoral". And that there are some things that are moral imperatives. These moral imperatives are driven by moral sentiment. Emotion drives such "entitlement" speak. Whereas, our budget deficit cannot be ignored. This is a moral imperative driven by reason, not sentiment! Isn't this more important than particular situations that might call for intervention? Our nation's viability is at stake! But, what is to come of a budget, when elected officials can "walk out" of negotiating and perservering in a job they were elected to do?
Those that want to play on moral sentiment, play upon religious values and emotionally driven goals by appealing to the "Golden Rule". Those that get their desired outcomes are those that have planned on using such emotional appeal to sway the "common man" to to their bidding. And usually their bidding is not chosen "up front" in the full light of day, but driven by the need to control or manipulate the "mob" so social order can be maintained. Such "Systems" are totaltaliarian. They are driven by elites for the "common good", but not the personal good of those under them. "Personal" ceases to have meaning or value, because it is independent of "theWhole", which is more valued than the "Parts".
Scientists value the physical universe. Its resources are of ultimate concern. But, physcial resources must be prioritized as to ultimate value, don't they? And what of the conflicting ways in which to approach limited resources and how to use them and create alternatives that might benefit "the Whole"? Who determines what policy will be made? And what outcomes will be of ultimate value or concern? Are Americans allowed to drill for oil, as other countries? Are we going to be allowed to drill for oil irregardless of environmental concerns for wildlife? Is the individual human of more value than other life forms? Or are all life forms or equal value?
If one values the nation-state, then there are priorities that must come first, irregadless of sentiment. Our nation's security is at stake, if we cannot maintain viability! Who will be at the helm of power then? Will we dissolve the nation-state for good, for a "common government"? Hasn't experience taught us that Bigger Government leads to more corruption because of an inability to make accountable such a "system"? Wasn't our Constitution even debated in our early years, because of such a belief? How then, can we think that liberalizing the world will bring about a "better way of life" for all? How do we know? What has history taught us?
My husband was expressing his desire for a certain endeavor that he felt would not be appreciated, acknowledged or valued by others. I encouraged him to attain his goal, irrespective of anything else, as such a desire was a matter of integrity and his own "honor and sense of being true to himself". Such "self-affirming" choice could not be made in a totalitarian system, because such "self affirming" ways of thinking and being in the world would be considered "selfish" , by those that want him to do "their bidding". But, I think such "selfishness" is a point of character. "Character" must be defined within the context of the "self", for there to be a "grounded self". Character that is evaluated by others might be applauded or dissapproved based on some other value, outside of "principled character". One might not value what he chooses, but they must applaud his commitment to it, IF they value a liberal democracy and human rights.
It seems that what is "moral" has been a useful term for many reasons. An ultimate and important value is the individual's right to exist and choose his own way of life, which is what a Democracy allows, and our Republic demands its Representatives uphold those values in it legislative powers!