Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

What is Morality? Part 1


Pt 1:

The topic I wanted to discuss with the class in my blog post is the idea of morality. In my part one, I just want to introduce the idea as a whole, and expound on my view using this introduction in my second post. I touched on the subject in my mid term presentation, but I feel like I did not go into detail enough. Let’s begin with what morality is, or what the general consensus on it is anyways. The online dictionary Dictionary.com defines morality as “conformity to the rules of right conduct; moral or virtuous conduct.” But the main question is one that we’ve created ourselves; is morality a relative idea or an absolute idea? What this does is create two schools of thought; Relative Morality and Absolute Morality. Relative morality subscribes to the idea that morality is a flexible idea that can change depending on circumstance, which makes it out to be a rather flimsy idea. Then on the other side of the spectrum we’ve got the idea of Absolute Morality. Absolute Morality revolves around the idea that morality is non changing; there are no factors that affect what is moral and what isn’t, essentially it is set in stone. While these ideas are polar opposites, they both have rather equal support from the masses. Some famous philosophers have weighed in on these concepts, and I want to bring up one notable one from each branch of thought. We’ll begin with Moral Relativism, and the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who had a very set in stone way of thinking when it came to morality. In an excerpt summing up the relative moral philosophy, Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “You have your way, I have my way. As for the right way, it does not exist.” So a rather famous philosopher thought that morality was actually quite relative to the circumstances of one’s own belief. Another philosopher that comes to mind with Moral Relativism is Montaigne, who wrote quite extensively on it, even going as far as to say “each man calls barbarism whatever is not his own practice; for indeed it seems we have no other test of truth and reason than the example and pattern of the opinions and customs of the country we live in” (Montaigne, p. 152). When it comes to Moral Absolutism, there are also quite a few prominent philosophers that have backed it over the years, one that I’ve found that expresses his views in a clear and concise manner is Peter Kreeft, who wrote “... first of all that absolute moral law exists not to minimize, but to maximize human happiness, and therefore it is maximally loving and compassionate, like labels, or roadmaps. You're not happy if you eat poison or drive off a cliff.” He backs his idea to the fullest via examples of stuff we would all generally have one viewpoint about, for example, driving a car off a cliff or eating poison, and it seems to make for a solid argument.

1 comment:

  1. This terminology of "relative" and "absolute" seems to get in the way, in a lot of our discussions. I'd prefer "relevant" and "intransigent" myself. The fact that Nietzsche personally prefers X, for instance, is both irrelevant and intransigent. We all need to enter in good faith into conversations that will help us hammer out what's relevant and appropriately responsive to real-world circumstance (not interior ideology). We don't all need to agree on one viewpoint, but we do all need to agree to give all cogent views a hearing.