BRYCE ON MORALITY
– Morality is a COLLECTIVE concept which defines us as a culture.
In Part 1, we examined the state of Morality in our culture and where it is heading. Here, in Part 2, we will define what Morality is and describe its properties.
WHAT IS MORALITY?
Is it something we intuitively know or is it something that must be taught and learned? Unfortunately, morality is not a subject commonly discussed anymore, particularly at the dinner table, office, or just about anywhere.
- Does morality mean following the letter of the law? What if the law is amoral?
- Is morality “political correctness”? Somewhat.
- Is morality synonymous with religion? Religion helps to define morality, but it is certainly not a requirement. For example, I have personally met people who avidly attend church and can quote chapter and verse, but I personally consider immoral, particularly in their business affairs.
- Is it possible for atheists or agnostics to be moral? If they have been taught to respect the rights of others and observe the rules of the land, Why not?
- How does morality differ from ethics?
noun (plural moralities)
Principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.
– A particular system of values and principles of conduct, especially one held by a specified person or society.
- (usually treated as plural) moral principles that govern a person’s or group’s behavior: Judeo-Christian ethics
- (usually treated as singular) the branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles. (Oxford Dictionary)
- Behavior showing high moral standards
- A quality considered morally good or desirable in a person (Oxford Dictionary)
Whereas morality represents the values of right and wrong or good and bad, ethics represents a body of moral values. This is why you see a “Code of Conduct” representing the guiding principles for employees in a business. More than anything, a moral value is an accepted form of behavior. This may be written, but quite often it is not. To illustrate, there is a multitude of laws, rules and regulations for operating an automobile, be it pertaining to traffic lights and signs, observing speed limits, parking, etc. However, there are other rules that are not documented, such as allowing another motorist to pass you on the highway, to enter traffic in clogged intersections, to dispense with the use of a cell phone in heavy traffic, etc. Such rules are commonly referred to as the “courtesy of the road” and just as important for the steady flow of traffic.
Morality is a COLLECTIVE concept which defines us as a culture. It refers to a code of conduct that applies to all who can understand it and can govern their behavior by it. It means acting in an expected/predictable manner, representing the status quo based on the norms of the day. To be a moral person, one must subscribe to this code of conduct of right/wrong and good/bad. The intention of morality, thereby, is to develop a person’s conscience as it includes the elements of honesty, courtesy, respect, kindness, value, honor, loyalty, courage, integrity, dedication and commitment, and a sense of professionalism. Morality means giving of one’s self, putting aside our self interests for the common good of all, so we may live and work together.
WHY IS SOMETHING CONSIDERED MORAL?
One must consider how a moral value originated. Perhaps it was based on philosophical or religious teachings, such as the Ten Commandments. For example, just about every religion and philosophy embraces the “Golden Rule” (“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”). Most moral values though are based on “Natural Law” which is the use of reason to analyze human nature and deduce binding rules of moral behavior. Such law is normally not written. However, if it becomes necessary to formalize the law in order to properly communicate and enforce it, it can become Statutory Law as enacted by legislators.
NEXT TIME: In Part 3, we will discuss how Morality affects our culture.
Mr. Bryce is available to speak on this subject
Keep the Faith!
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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
NEXT UP: STAND UP FOR MORALITY (PART 3 OF 8) – Our actions are based on our perceptions and sense of morality.
LAST TIME: STAND UP FOR MORALITY (PART 1 OF 8) – “Morality is something we all claim to know, but never openly discuss.”
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