Why Be Moral?

Should you think about your duty, or about the consequences of your actions? Or should you concentrate on becoming a good person?

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RCSaunders
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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by RCSaunders » Fri Mar 13, 2020 12:59 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 7:49 pm
pilgrim1917 wrote:
Wed Mar 11, 2020 11:34 pm
Greetings, I think your question is significant in a discussion of morals. Those promoting a life based on morals can gain strength for their argument when the question is answered well. Those against a moral life can devise "good reasons" to abandon morals. Both sides of the argument have many possible answers. Personally, I believe that life is eternal and that I will be judged on the moral content of all the actions I took or failed to take.
So do I.

But I would add this: that morality is not simply about the individual. It's about how the individual treats other people. If one were literally the only being in the universe...of if there were others, but none of them counted for moral purposes but the individual himself...there would be no possibility of moral duty at all. You can't "owe yourself" to do anything "yourself" doesn't want to do, in such circumstances, nor even "owe yourself" to do things "yourself" wants to do. There are no moral considerations in anything then.

But the Great Commandment has two parts: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart...," and "love your neighbour." There are two sources of other moral 'counters' outside the individual who is being commanded: God, to whom all duty is ultimately owed, and one's neighbour, who is to be regarded as every bit as important as the individual, precisely for the reason that he/she is of equally of value to God as you, the individual self, is.

But if one believes there is no God, then neither is there any moral duty. Nor is there the possibility of one. Nor can one owe anything to one's neighbour, even if he still exists; for he, like you and like all beings, is nothing special, nothing but an accidental collection of cosmic dust.

And one cannot owe any duties to space dust.
If you are right, and morality is among other things, some kind of duty, the question still stands, why should anyone do their duty?

The qeustion is not are there moral principles or duties, to God or one's neighbor, the question is, even if there are, why should anyone choose to do their duty?

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RCSaunders
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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by RCSaunders » Fri Mar 13, 2020 1:08 am

Impenitent wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 11:26 pm
RCSaunders wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 1:54 am
Impenitent wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 12:02 am
if you get what you give, give only that which you would accept being to be done to you or yours...

-Imp

for consistency
What you seem to be saying is that it is moral to give only that which you would accept, and that do so would be for consistency. But the question is, why should anyone be moral or consistent? Why not be immoral and inconsistent?
the only reason not to is that that would be returned...

-Imp
Thank you. That, at least, is an answer to the question. If I may paraphrase, "one should observe the moral rule of not doing to their neighbor what they would not their neighbor to do to them, so the neighbor won't do it to them OR one should do good to their neighbor so their neighbor will do good to them. (I'm guessing that's what you mean.) If it is, it is at least practical, if it would work, but that's another discussion.

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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by RCSaunders » Fri Mar 13, 2020 1:20 am

pilgrim1917 wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 8:19 pm
Let's consider what kind of age we are living in, to get some insight on why the question, "Why be moral?" is surely an appropriate question for us to be asking in the first place.

What name do we give our age? Philosophical positions of the past, positions where morality wasn't as hotly questioned, were more certain about morals. Moral violations resulted in armies being formed to defeat despots who disregarded moral governing. Martin Luther, an intellectual and a man of religion, began an era of questioning and moral rebellion he didn't intend to start, because popes and bishops of the Catholic Church were violating expected moral and ethical practices within the Church.

Later in the 18th century the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment came, the questioning continued, then passed and moved into another age of human thought, the age of political theories and movements, a seeking for utopia, manifesting in revolutionary approaches and actual revolutions, all focused toward different re-makings of human society and mankind itself. The revolutions continued, small ones and big ones, into the 19th and 20th centuries, right up to today: Rights of Man, the major works of Karl Mark, various French philosophers especially, including Foucault, who wrote:

"Justice must always question itself, just as society can exist only by means of the work it does on itself and on its institutions."

Perhaps that is what we are doing in this Forum. But where are we now, in the current age of ideas? We seem to be having to ask this question about moral behavior again, one that didn't need asking for centuries. Yet, here we are, asking it. My hypothesis is that we are living in the Age of Philosophical Uncertainty. Immanual Kant made this assertion on moral behavior, among many others. He wrote it was important to,
“Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.” Thus, moral and ethical treatment of others for its' own sake. Just because it is right. That was Kant's position, held by many at the time and going forward, until today. Can our age promote that conviction and not expect a very big debate? I suspect a debate would ensue and continue and for a good while.
I''m not sure there needs to be a debate, but you do understand the question. You wrote:
Immanual Kant ... wrote it was important to,“Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.” Thus, moral and ethical treatment of others for its' own sake. Just because it is right.
...which is the whole problem with all current ethical and moral views and the reason for my question. It's fine to say, "be moral for its own sake, just because it is right," but unless it can be explained WHY anyone should do it, (or actually why it is right), it's just an empty suggestion.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by Immanuel Can » Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:01 am

RCSaunders wrote:
Fri Mar 13, 2020 12:59 am
If you are right, and morality is among other things, some kind of duty, the question still stands, why should anyone do their duty?
Absolutely. That's the right question.

And secularly, the answer has to be, "Duty to whom?" After all, to whom could one "owe" anything?

From a Christian perspective, good is not just a moral quality in some theoretical sense; nor is it only a matter of Divine Command. Rather, it's also what's ultimately good, healthy, and ultimately conducive to well-being, significance and success for others and for oneself. The good is what makes a man (or woman) "all that he can and should be," all that he or she was intended to be, and all that is the culmination of his existence.

Now, of course, Christians also recognize that man can choose not to do the good. He can reject his moral duty. He can even do that in the name of being more "his own person." But when he does that, it is not success he achieves, not self-actualization or freedom, but rather a kind of sickness, stuntedness and defeat of his own intrinsic value: he does evil...not just in the action toward others, but to himself as well.

And we can recognize this in practical life examples. A man who, for a living, tortures women and children is never made a better, more whole, more psychologically and emotionally rich person by doing it. Never. In contrast, a person who is routinely charitable, merciful and patient always enriches his soul, his self, by practicing those things. It's not just that his society approves him, though it probably will; it's that even he approves himself much more for being that way.

Take another case. You, RC, know that being "realistic" is valuable. You've said so to me before, on several occasions, so I know realism is important as a value to you. But, we might ask, why not instead be a liar or a deceiver, if there's no duty not to? And I think you can give good reasons for it: I think you know that a man who grasps reality, who has the truth about something, is more powerful, more really able to deal with his situation, and more in touch with the world around him than the man who is under deception. So lying would be another moral imperative; every time we lie, we deprive others of contact with reality. And if we lie to ourselves, we deprive ourselves of that contact. Again, moral duty has real-life consequences.

Reality is interwoven with moral imperatives like those...things like, "do not harm others," and "do not lie"... If one refuses to respect those moral duties, then one will not merely harm others and disempower them; one will simultaneously harm oneself and deprive oneself of access to reality.

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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by odysseus » Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:16 am

RCSaunders
..which is the whole problem with all current ethical and moral views and the reason for my question. It's fine to say, "be moral for its own sake, just because it is right," but unless it can be explained WHY anyone should do it, (or actually why it is right), it's just an empty suggestion.
Quite right about that, and there is no saving ethics unless there is a metaethical authority that speaks about and affirms what ethics is really about. The problem we have is we live under the impression that all things are reducible, and the kind of affirmation that would confirm the validity of ethics cannot be reducible, that is, cannot defer to something else, as with the concept of duty, which, as you say, begs the question metaethical question, why should one obey? Because it is a rational obligation? Why be rational? Reason has nothing to coerce ethical compliance.

The only solution is that ethics be affirmed IN the material conditions of the ethical issue.
The answer comes from G E Moore's Principia Ethica, and the problem is evident not in the entanglements of competing ways to respond to ethical situations, but in the substance of their ethics, which is value. What is needed is a metaethical solution through a metavalue affirmatio. In other words, I shouldn't torture my neighbor for amusement because the value at stake is self affirming.

Moore called ethical value a "non natural" property and he was not talking about the pain or the pleasure, which Wittgenstein and Hume would call obvious facts, but the ethical "badness" and "goodness" of these. A very simple way to "observe" this: put a lighted match to your finger. There is in this all the evidence that is required to defend the thesis of moral realism. The idea is not about the morally arbitrary content of specific cases, but does a kind of phenomenological reduction down to the essence what makes something moral at all: that match at your finger has a dimension that is altogether sui generis, which is the value, and here, the extreme negative value of pain. A romantic walk down a country road has this, as do all things, for experience is always, already valuative (see Dewey's Art As Experience).

What makes ethics obligatory and powerfully coercive is the metavalue of experience itself.

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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by Nick_A » Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:45 am

RCSaunders wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 2:39 pm
Nick_A wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 5:18 am
Objective conscience is a universal principle a person can remember. You have to decide if it is worth making the sincere efforts necessary for remembering or continually debating man made morality.
Perhaps you need to read the post again. I'm not debating anything. I'm only asking the question of why anyone should observe moral principles. Is it so they won't suffer a bad conscience? If their conscience does not bother them (as it wouldn't for sociopaths and pschopaths) is it alright for them to be immoral?
There is no reason to be moral. But I thought asking on philosophy site asks why do so. Of course all you have to do is obey laws when people are watching and know how to avoid them,

But there are those who ask what inspires me to feel conscience?That is a philosophical/psychological question some feel and some don't when guided by pragmatism

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henry quirk
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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by henry quirk » Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:57 am

conscience

As I see it: conscience is the compass and morality is true north.

odysseus
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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by odysseus » Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:58 am

Nick_A
But there are those who ask what inspires me to feel conscience?That is a philosophical/psychological question some feel and some don't when guided by pragmatism
Pragmatism and conscience?? Surely it is not pragmatism that produces conscience. It certainly can be a way to characterize moral thinking, which is inherently problem solving, but conscience is an entirely different matter.

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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by Age » Fri Mar 13, 2020 5:28 am

If people want to live in peace and harmony, then that is why to be 'moral'.

But, if people want to continue living in discord and disharmony, as they are now when this is written, then continue on to be immoral.

Veritas Aequitas
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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by Veritas Aequitas » Fri Mar 13, 2020 7:01 am

RCSaunders wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 2:47 pm
Veritas Aequitas wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 7:25 am
It seem your ignorant and indifferent attitude is 'F... morality!' don't talk, don't explore, don't research, nor seek possibilities of establishing an efficient framework and system to promote morality and ethics for the future of mankind.
I think you need to reread the post. I made no arguments at all, I only asked a question. Whatever you think morality or ethical principles are, why should any individual choose follow them? That's the question. What's your answer?

Is the only reason a person should be moral for the sake of, "the future of mankind?" If that is what all you wrote was meant to say, the question still is, why should any individual do anything for, "the future of mankind?"
Where did I insist an individual SHOULD do this or that?
I already stated VERY clearly, the Moral Ought is merely a Guide Only, not a "should" that is to be enforced.

Note I wrote:
  • RCSuanders Asked: Why should anyone observe any moral standards?
    No one should be forced to observe any inherent objective moral standards but rather they should [be educated to] be aware such moral standards exist inherently within them and objectively.
I don't think my English is that bad in the above, that you cannot understand the point.

My point is, the moral ought or should is merely a guide to guide all human to act what they are naturally programmed to do, i.e. preserve the human species - mankind.

I am not insisting, YOU in your present state of being evil laden, SHOULD act for the future of mankind. I did not do that. You can do what you like at present to exterminate the human species via genocide if you are that inclined.

The issue at present is, the inherent moral tendency to preserve the human species is unfolding very slowly within the brain of the majority of humans.

The implementation of the secular objective moral ought is to expedite the process to raise the average moral competency of humanity to face greater threats that could exterminate the human species, especially with cheaply accessible WMDs by Jihadists.

For YOU, nobody is forcing you SHOULD to do anything now to save mankind.

The establishment of an efficient Framework that works takes time and progress is slow at the foundational phases.
I am proposing a Framework and System of Morality and Ethics to be initiated now and improve progressively and expecting results within 50, 75 or > 100 years.
Last edited by Veritas Aequitas on Fri Mar 13, 2020 7:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by Veritas Aequitas » Fri Mar 13, 2020 7:25 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 7:49 pm
But if one believes there is no God, then neither is there any moral duty. Nor is there the possibility of one. Nor can one owe anything to one's neighbour, even if he still exists; for he, like you and like all beings, is nothing special, nothing but an accidental collection of cosmic dust.

And one cannot owe any duties to space dust.
You are ignorant of human nature which is your own inherent nature.

I agree Theological Morality [better than nothing] is critically necessary at the present phase of human evolution [for morally immature humans] but not for the future when greater threats are brought forth to human awareness via knowledge.
Toward the future, there is no need for any moral duty [ought] imposed by a God [illusory] with a threat of hell if the individual do not comply.

Note it is God [Allah] that condoned the killing of non-believers and condone even the extermination of the human species since regardless of what happen, the martyrs are highly rewarded in Paradise.

DNA wise, all humans are "programmed" with an inherent moral faculty embedded in the brain in alignment with the preservation of the human species.
The issue is this inherent moral faculty in the majority of individual[s] is unfolding very slowly.
Despite the slow speed of unfoldment, there is already progress unfolding [unconsciously] in the moral competencies of humanity, e.g. note the progress of 'chattel slavery' 'racism' as contrast to the moral status of the majority say 500 years ago.

As such, we should use our intelligence and reasoning to research into this unconscious unfoldment of this present slow moral progress to find ways to expedite the average moral competency of humanity in the future [50, 75 or 100> years].

We don't need a God [illusory from faith] to ground our moral framework, but rather we can increase the moral competency of the average within humanity by establishing an efficient Framework and System of Morality and Ethics grounded on secular objective absolute moral standards/oughts justified from empirical evidences and the strongest philosophical reasoning.
This will involve the expeditious rewiring [absolutely foolproof] of the moral faculty within the brains/mind of each individual.

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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by Veritas Aequitas » Fri Mar 13, 2020 7:32 am

pilgrim1917 wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 8:19 pm
Immanual Kant made this assertion on moral behavior, among many others. He wrote it was important to,

“Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.”

Thus, moral and ethical treatment of others for its' own sake. Just because it is right. That was Kant's position, held by many at the time and going forward, until today.
Can our age promote that conviction and not expect a very big debate? I suspect a debate would ensue and continue and for a good while.
The above "Act in such a way ...." is one of Kant's Categorical Imperative out of five fundamental CIs.

The Kantian Model of Morality and Ethics [with slight adjustments] is the way to go for the future.

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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by Skepdick » Fri Mar 13, 2020 7:32 am

RCSaunders wrote:
Wed Mar 11, 2020 8:03 pm
While philosophers debate what morals or ethical principles are, or if morality is objective or subjective, the one question that is carefully evaded is:

Why should anyone observe any moral standards?

The possibility of moral principles assumes individuals a have choice about how they behave. If human behavior were determined by something other than individual choice, whether there were moral principles or not would not matter, since no one could choose either to observe or evade them.

If there really are moral principles, however, then one must choose to either conform to those principle or defy them. The question is, even if there are moral principles, why should anyone bother with them? What difference does it make if someone lives morally or not?
Moral behaviour breeds collective trust. Immoral behaviour breeds collective distrust.

If you are an "individualist" and you depend only on yourself and nobody else, then you don't need others to trust you; you don't need others to cooperate with you; you don't need others to exchange value with you,

If you don't need other humans to survive and thrive, if you are totally independent from society as a whole then you don't need to observe moral standards.

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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by Veritas Aequitas » Fri Mar 13, 2020 7:38 am

henry quirk wrote:
Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:57 am
conscience

As I see it: conscience is the compass and morality is true north.
Good point.

So it is logical we need to research what constitute and how the concept and mechanisms of 'conscience' are working within ourselves, i.e. the brain and its 100 billion neurons each with up to 10,000 connectors [synapses].
This would be a very big task but I am optimistic humanity will be able to get to it in the near future or a bit longer.

In addition, we need to justify why the 'true north' is objectively the 'true north' which all must align towards.

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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by RCSaunders » Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:20 pm

Nick_A wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 5:18 am
=RCSaunders post_id=446250 time=1583953415 user_id=16196]
While philosophers debate what morals or ethical principles are, or if morality is objective or subjective, the one question that is carefully evaded is:

Why should anyone observe any moral standards?

The possibility of moral principles assumes individuals a have choice about how they behave. If human behavior were determined by something other than individual choice, whether there were moral principles or not would not matter, since no one could choose either to observe or evade them.

If there really are moral principles, however, then one must choose to either conform to those principle or defy them. The question is, even if there are moral principles, why should anyone bother with them? What difference does it make if someone lives morally or not?



Man made morality is relative. Collectives invent their own morality to assist their acquired psychology
1943
"No matter how idealistic and necessary a group is, each member must first be loyal to his conscience.” Albert Einstein, in Einstein and the Poet – In Search of the Cosmic Man by William Hermanns (Branden Press, 1983, p. 73. – conversation in August 1943)
1954
“We will be destroyed unless we create a cosmic conscience. And we have to begin to do that on an individual level, with the youth that are the politicians of tomorrow…. But no one, and certainly no state, can take over the responsibility that the individual has to his conscience.” Albert Einstein, in Einstein and the Poet – In Search of the Cosmic Man by William Hermanns (Branden Press, 1983, p. 141. Conversation in Summer of 1954)
Objective conscience is a universal principle a person can remember. You have to decide if it is worth making the sincere efforts necessary for remembering or continually debating man made morality.
I may be missing your point here, Nick, but I do not see how your description of, "objective conscience," as the basis of moral principle answers the question of why anyone should observe those principles even if true.

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