Philosophical Tuesday: Morals and Morality

Morals. Morality. Social Morals. Moral Compass. We’ve all heard it. But what exactly does it mean and are we all morally conscious and/or (socially) morally obligated to one another. Why or why not?

Seems as if the world is divided when it comes to certain topics, issues, and/or values. We all don’t agree on simple things. One of such things is the issue of morals. I’m not here to judge (aka moral judgment) anyone. Which is also one of the problems. Because the issue of morals/morality is often met with defiant responses/statements such as “you’re judging me” or “don’t judge me.” Such responsories make it difficult for sincere interventions such that no one wants to touch it – let sleeping dogs lie! But I believe that we are socially responsible to one another or that we ought to be and such conversations are necessary.

Morals and ethics sometimes are interchangeably used. As the above definitions state, it is mainly about the right conduct. But could the right conduct of one person be a wrong to another? Or is there a unanimous agreement that right is right and wrong is wrong? Let’s ponder on that.

We need to understand and agree on what morals (and morality) are before moving forward.

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Once agreed, the next question will be “are we born with a moral compass or does life and environment dictate it?

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The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) states that morality can be descriptive or normative. Morals also relate to both an individual and the society.

“Descriptive morality refer to certain codes of conduct put forward by a society or a group (such as a religion), or accepted by an individual for her own behavior. When “morality” is used simply to refer to a code of conduct put forward by an actual group, including a society, even if it is distinguished from etiquette, law, and religion, it is being used in a descriptive sense. It is also being used in the descriptive sense when it refers to important attitudes of individuals. Just as one can refer to the morality of the Greeks, so one can refer to the morality of a particular person.”

Normative morality however refers to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational people; it takes on the form of avoiding and preventing harm and “holds that morality is (or would be) the behavioral code that meets the following condition: all rational persons, under certain specified conditions, would endorse it.

In addition, there are several views of morality: the relativist, naturalist, consequentialist, utilitarians, and more. Read it all in the SEP.

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Final thoughts

Morals, as you can see, is not so straightforward. “Confusion about the content of morality sometimes arises because morality is not distinguished sufficiently from religion.”

What are your thoughts on this post? What does morals / morality mean to you? Are you one to take a stand for morals or not? What do you think about the various views of morality?

Thanks for reading – to be continued next week.