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Morality (from Latin: moralis, lit. 'manner, character, proper behavior') is the differentiation of intentions, decisions and actions between those that are distinguished as proper and those that are improper. Morality can be a body of standards or principles derived from a code of conduct from a particular philosophy, religion or culture, or it can derive from a standard that a person believes should be universal. Morality may also be specifically synonymous with "goodness" or "rightness".
Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. The field of ethics, along with aesthetics, concern matters of value, and thus comprise the branch of philosophy called axiology. Ethics seeks to resolve questions of human morality by defining concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime. As a field of intellectual inquiry, moral philosophy also is related to the fields of moral psychology, descriptive ethics, and value theory.
From those specific cases we may be able to conclude a general rule behind the decisions made in those cases.
Without delving too deeply into the definition of morality or ethics, I think we can usefully approach the subject through "universal". The test is whether any person considered normal by his peers, would make the same choice or judgement as any other in a case requiring subjective evaluation. This immediately leads to a sampling question. "Turn the other cheek" would be considered normal and desirable in some peer groups, whilst "an eye for an eye" might be de rigeur for others. Both strategies have evolutionary validity: think rabbits, which outbreed their predators, and lions, where only the strongest male gets to breed.Homo sapiens is an odd creature We breed too slowly to survive as prey, and are too weak to be predators, but a very complex collaboration allows us to farm and hunt all we need. That said, although we can see the value of large scale collaboration (like bees and ants) it takes a long time to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to participate, so the small "family" unit (including communes and kibbutzim) is a prerequisite of survival. Thus we grow up with at least two loyalties, to the immediate family that supports us, and to the wider community that supports the family. No problem if we have infinite resources and unlimited choice, but the decisions we make in restricted circumstances are what defines our morality, and it is fairly clear from daily accounts of religious wars and magistrates' court proceedings that either there is no universal concept of right and wrong, or that it can be set aside for personal gain.
Probably not.The example quoted by @alancalverd (eye for eye) shows the problem of trying to decide a universal ethic.While some might go for the lesser evil, Alan is likely to go for population reduction and set the trolly on the 5.
We won't find out if we don't even try, do we?
That depends what you are trying to find out. Your question is asking about a universal ethic/morality, but @alancalverd shows that it doesn’t exist.Perhaps you are trying to devise a methodology to determine the ethic/morality that drives a particular individual or group in specific circumstances.
I think the oft quoted saying an eye for an eye was meant to limit revenge not to encourage it.
To answer the question properly we need to define the boundary of the subject. We need to answer standard questions : what, where, when, who, why, how.We can also explore the subject further using thought experiments and their variations such us trolley problem. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problemFrom those specific cases we may be able to conclude a general rule behind the decisions made in those cases. In my opinion, the trolley problem and its variations ask us what is the priority held by the decision maker, and what factors may influence it.I found a trolley problem experiment in real life in this video://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sl5KJ69qiA
I think Alan's post only shows that morality can be subjective, but doesn't show that it can't be collective. If some moral standards can be shown to be universally applicable, that will answer the question of the topic.
...perhaps the moral standard of some planet in a galaxy far, far away might be to destroy any life form existing on any other planet in the universe (kind of like destroying potentially dangerous alien life forms).
I spend some time sitting on medical research ethics committees. The general guidance seems to boil down to whether the balance of risk and benefit has been fully evaluated and presented such that the famous "man on the Clapham omnibus" would be able to make an informed decision to participate. But in making that judgement, we are often aware that even his brother on the Brooklyn omnibus has a slightly different perspective, and we can only guess at what the average Tokyo commuter might consider acceptable.
I'll try to answer standard questions, starting with "What". In most theories, morality can be seen as a method to distinguish between right and wrong, good and bad, proper and improper. It follows that to get to universal agreement on morality, we need first to agree on what is defined by the words right and wrong, good and bad, proper and improper. This inevitably lead us to the next question: who decides what's right and wrong, good and bad, proper and improper, and why?Question of when and where can be more easily answered. A universal moral standard must be applicable anywhere and anytime.