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Author Topic: Is there a Rational Ground for Morality?  (Read 3820 times)

Offline coberst

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Is there a Rational Ground for Morality?
« on: 10/04/2009 10:19:32 »
Is there a Rational Ground for Morality?

There can be no morality without law but there can be law without morality.

Law can create particular obligations but law cannot create a law that dictates an obligation to obey law.   Law can punish but cannot create the general obligation to obey law.  Such an obligation comes via moral character.  “Morality must be distinguished from self-interest, although the two can often coincide…What is the rational ground for morality and its obligation?”

The rational ground for morality rests upon the need for mutual cooperation within a community.  With mutual cooperation comes mutual dependence.  Mutual cooperation demands trust, which relies upon honesty.  Honesty implies obligation.  Violence destroys cooperation.

Cooperation is essential for social life; only if we wish to withdraw into isolation can we afford to ignore cooperation.  Empirically we can find cooperation within every community.  Morality is about human relationships thus empirically we can find both the need and presence of morality in all communities.

Morality exists in all communities but it has many variables and much diversity.  Three factors are important here: differences in religion, differences in politics, and differences in production and economic relations.

“Certain moral commitments with their attendant obligation are necessary for any kind of human co-operation whatever.  These must first be acknowledged before there can be other values which vary.  This is an a priori not an empirical thesis.”  By definition, a group of individuals without human co-operation is no community at all.

A diversity of moral codes within a community can be accepted but primary loyalty to all within the community must be to the community and not to particular groups or classes within the community.  Those values that unite must be more important than those that divide.

A community is a group committed to the rule of law, which entails three specific principles of law: the law is supreme with equality and freedom under the law.  Legal rules are supreme and all members are subjected to and protected by those rules.

Public interest, when properly understood, forms the “rational basis of both government and politics”.


Quotes from The Morality of Politics edited by Bhikhu Parekh & R. N. Berki


 

Offline graham.d

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Is there a Rational Ground for Morality?
« Reply #1 on: 10/04/2009 13:46:34 »
"Is there a Rational Ground for Morality?" - Yes.

"There can be no morality without law" - B*llocks, of course there can. Our behaviour is based on a mix of learnt and inherited traits i.e. socially developed and genetic. Laws have been developed as a result of what are considered by social groups to be guides to acceptable behaviour, which in turn results from these moralistic views, not the other way around.

 

Offline Bored chemist

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Is there a Rational Ground for Morality?
« Reply #2 on: 10/04/2009 17:10:29 »
"Is there a Rational Ground for Morality?"
Yes.
Do unto others as you would have others do unto you;
because they might.
 

Variola

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Is there a Rational Ground for Morality?
« Reply #3 on: 10/04/2009 19:17:53 »
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There can be no morality without law but there can be law without morality.

That rather states the obvious. There is no morality for me to pay my council tax,but there is a law that decrees I do so.


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Law can create particular obligations but law cannot create a law that dictates an obligation to obey law.   Law can punish but cannot create the general obligation to obey law.  Such an obligation comes via moral character.  “Morality must be distinguished from self-interest, although the two can often coincide…What is the rational ground for morality and its obligation?”


Thats because most of the original laws are based on morality.

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The rational ground for morality rests upon the need for mutual cooperation within a community.  With mutual cooperation comes mutual dependence.  Mutual cooperation demands trust, which relies upon honesty.  Honesty implies obligation.  Violence destroys cooperation.

Morality is set on social norms and avoidance of deviance.

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Cooperation is essential for social life; only if we wish to withdraw into isolation can we afford to ignore cooperation.  Empirically we can find cooperation within every community.  Morality is about human relationships thus empirically we can find both the need and presence of morality in all communities.

Isolation is considered deviant ( in most cases). Hence avoidance of deviance is what promotes cooperation, alongside the natural human pack/gregarious drive.
How is morality based on human relationships? Because of cooperation? I dispute that. Its based on the social norms, you could argue that that is part of the human relationships, but relationships are multi-faceted and the distinction is not clear cut.

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Three factors are important here: differences in religion, differences in politics, and differences in production and economic relations.

And the differences are what??? The excerpt does not go on to state this.

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A diversity of moral codes within a community can be accepted but primary loyalty to all within the community must be to the community and not to particular groups or classes within the community.  Those values that unite must be more important than those that divide.

Why does the author use the term 'loyalty' here? Diversity of moral codes is accepted...yes...but common values unite people no matter what class or culture.... yes.... but there is no loyalty. I am not loyal to the man int he next street but I would not murder him and I expect we would both agree murder is wrong.
Loyalty is an expression of a perception of a human value, but it is implicit in the singular, a person, a company, a football team.

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Public interest, when properly understood, forms the “rational basis of both government and politics”.

So in a roundabout way, the author is saying that public interest, through the use of morals defines the law made by government?? Well thats not new!

Perhaps the rest of the book is better, but that excerpt tell us nothing new.
 

Ethos

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Is there a Rational Ground for Morality?
« Reply #4 on: 10/04/2009 21:11:41 »
Is there a Rational Ground for Morality?

Absolutely.........!

Where do you think law has it's foundation?

Law is the result of an interpretation of moral standing.

...................Ethos
 

Offline coberst

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Is there a Rational Ground for Morality?
« Reply #5 on: 11/04/2009 13:41:32 »
Is there a Rational Ground for Morality?

Absolutely.........!

Where do you think law has it's foundation?

Law is the result of an interpretation of moral standing.



...................Ethos

Could you elaborate the basis for your declaration that law is the interpretation of a moral code.  Our moral codes are dramatically different throughout the world.  Does civil law reflect that same dramatic difference?
 

Variola

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Is there a Rational Ground for Morality?
« Reply #6 on: 11/04/2009 14:39:41 »
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Our moral codes are dramatically different throughout the world.

Actually the basics are not that different, people still believe in the preservation of life and the protection of harm to others that might endanger that life.
Laws around the world are very different, as reflected by the cultural changes in the social norms.
 

Ethos

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Is there a Rational Ground for Morality?
« Reply #7 on: 11/04/2009 14:47:59 »

  Our moral codes are dramatically different throughout the world.  Does civil law reflect that same dramatic difference?
Absolutely; consider the Muslim world for an example. Their laws are much different than ours here in the west. The reason is obvious, they base them on their religious beliefs which, BTW, is just one of many venues of moral persuasion....................Ethos
 

Offline coberst

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Is there a Rational Ground for Morality?
« Reply #8 on: 11/04/2009 16:52:15 »
I have a constantly changing attitude toward morality.  My views are changing because I am constantly studying subject matter that is related to the problem of morality.  In fact as I study these matters I find that the most important concerns of sapiens is morality based.

I have a cartoon figure that my son has crated for me that speaks to my general attitude toward morality.  The figure has an Arnold-like upper torso set on two spindle weak veracious veined legs.  The upper torso is our ‘man of science’ and the lower body represents our ‘science of man’, i.e. morality.  We are rapidly running out the clock on human survival unless we quickly develop a moral code that will allow us to live together.

I suspect that almost all of us would behave uniformly when encountering face-to-face with another person’s misfortune—we would all feel instant sympathy. We are born with ‘sympathetic vibrations’--we often automatically tear-up in all the same situations. However there seems to be two moral concepts that determine many social-political situations.

“The two main concepts of ethics are those of the right and the good; the concept of a morally worthy person is, I believe, derived from them.” This quote and any others are from “A Theory of Justice” by John Rawls.

It appears that both philosophy and common sense distinguish between the concepts ‘right’ and ‘good’.  The interrelationship of these two concepts in many minds will determine what is considered to be ethical/moral behavior.  Most citizens in a just society consider that rights “are taken for granted and the rights secured by justice are not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interests.”  The Constitution of the United States defines the rights of all citizens, which are considered to be sacrosanct (sacred or holy).

Many consider that the “most rational conception of justice is utilitarian…a society is properly arranged when its institutions maximize the net balance of satisfaction…It is natural to think that rationality is maximizing something and that in morals it must be maximizing the good.”

Some advocates of utilitarianism believe that rights have a secondary validity from the fact that “under the conditions of civilized society there is a great social utility in following them [rights] for the most part and in permitting violations only under exceptional circumstances.” The good, for society, is the satisfaction of rational desire. The right is that which maximizes the good; some advocates of utilitarianism account for rights as being a socially useful consideration.

Captain Dave will under no circumstance torture a prisoner. Captain Jim will torture a prisoner when he considers such action will save the lives of his platoon.

Some utilitarians consider the rights enunciated in the constitution are a useful means to fortify the good.  Captain Jim, while recognizing the rights in the Constitution, considers these rights are valid and useful but only because they promote the good.  The rights defined in the Constitution can be violated but only in the name of the common good. 

Captain Dave may very well be an advocate of utilitarianism but he considers that right is different in kind from good and right cannot be forfeit to good under any condition.

Liberals take the stance that to agree on the fact means to agree on the morality of the situation.  Any deviation is indefensible and reflects only selfish rationalization.  Liberals find it almost impossible to respect the moral position of conservatives and conservatives find it impossible to judge that liberals are the intellectual equals of conservatives.

The apparent reason for this disjunction is the fact that liberals and conservatives seem to have “their own kind of morality” according to the analysis in ”The Morality of Politics” by W. H. Walsh.

“What we need to observe is that conservatives and liberals are working within different traditions of morality.  The morality of the conservative is closed morality; it is the morality of a particular community.  The morality of the liberal is an open morality; it is a morality which has nothing to do with any particular human groups, but applies to all men whatever their local affiliations.”

I was raised as a Catholic; I was taught by the nuns the Catholic doctrine regarding sin, punishment, and consciousness.  Venial sins were like misdemeanors and mortal sins were like felonies.  However, this is not a completely accurate analogy because if a person dies with venial sin on the soul s/he would be punished by having to spend time in purgatory before going to heaven but if a person died with mortal sin on the soul s/he went directly to hell for eternity.

Confession was the standard means for ‘erasing sin from the soul’.  A confession was considered to be a ‘good confession’ only if the sinner confessed the sins to a priest and was truly sorry for having committed sin.  A very important element of a good confession was an examination of consciousness, which meant the person must become fully conscious of having committed the sin. 

Ignorance of the sin was no excuse just as ignorance of the law is no excuse.  Herein lays the rub.   Knowledge and consciousness of sin were necessary conditions for the erasure of sin from the soul in confession.



 

Offline graham.d

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Is there a Rational Ground for Morality?
« Reply #9 on: 12/04/2009 13:39:59 »
Good comments Coberst. You may be interested in this short lecture by Jonathon Haidt...

http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html

Given your comments I am surprised you made the statement in your opening post "There can be no morality without law" with which I (and others) disagree. I think we have inherited, both genetically and through the common necessity of being a social animal, a common basic morality. You can think of it as based on our ability to empathise and also to reason through the consequences of our actions. There may be many local variations but there is a strong commonality.

The concept of the confessional always seems like a "get-out-jail" card to me. People have a huge capacity for self deception which usually means that good people are good (and worry about their sins) and bad people are bad (and don't care too much). It seems to me that the bad guys always feel that they have time to reform later and so all will be well. It doesn't seem to matter whether they are Catholics or not except that many good Catholics feel guilty through much of their lives. It is surprising how this feeling persists even after the religious belief is gone (according to a lapsed catholic friend) - a tribute to the effectiveness of conditioning.
 

Offline coberst

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Is there a Rational Ground for Morality?
« Reply #10 on: 12/04/2009 19:12:54 »
graham

I was raised Catholic but am not an adult Catholic.

 I think that many Catholics who are adults and remain Catholic are still just child Catholics.  I mean that few Catholics ever grow beyond their upbringing in the matter of religion. 

I suspect that is indication that the Catholic hierarchy throughout time have been very sophisticated in their knowledge of psychology.  As I think back I am convinced that many of those teachings and ritual are very psychologically astute.
 

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Is there a Rational Ground for Morality?
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