Friday, September 28, 2012

4 Sources of Morals

As one travels through life, it would seem prudent to stand back and take stock of their surroundings; the   scenery, the auditory stimuli, and of course the mental composition.  Contemplating further, we start examining why we hold certain beliefs. From their, it only leads to the further questioning of ethics and moral virtues.  Where did these virtues come from?  Why do I know something is right or wrong, and why is there sometimes a grey area?  As someone who wants to better himself, I've taken some time to make note of where I believe most of our morals come from and how they were developed.

1.) Religious or Ethical Standards - this is probably the most recognizable source of societal morals.  Coming from a Christian background, I tend to appreciate the original 10 Commandments as the first source of religious morals.  These sources of revealed truths are some of the oldest ways we associate and link in becoming a moral being.  There is no (or almost no) grey area in religious ethical standards.  If someone were to commit a crime for the better good, it is still a crime and unacceptable.

2.) Kantian Ethics - Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher around the time of 1702-1804.  He established a set of duty-based ethical standards derived solely from philosophical reasoning.  Kant believed that human beings are fundamentally different from everything else in nature and carried the cognitive ability to make logical decisions.  Humans should therefore be universally treated with respect.  If ever a case were to come along in which a person were treated like an object, this would be treading on their universal uniqueness and constitute a wrongness.  Another central theme is that people should act and think about how their actions influence the world and those around them.  If everyone were to start acting in this way, then the world would probably be a better place.

3.) Principles of Rights - Strongly routed in Western culture and deriving much of its influence from the time of the Enlightenment, this concept focuses on the inalienable rights of all of mankind (generally life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness).  A wrong in this school of thought would be any action that violates the principle rights of another person (think murder or slavery).  In my mind, this seems the most libertarian of the previous 2 examples as it allows you to do whatever you want as long as you don't infringe on the rights of others.

4.) Utilitarianism - The most recognizable slogan from this concept is "the greatest good for the greatest number".  In this philosophy, one must remove themselves from emotion or illogical thinking and determine which action will have the best outcome for the most people.  An example of this would be if you have to kill one person to save 2.  Generally speaking, the killing would be justified so that 2 more could live on.  This theory was developed by British philosophers Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and slightly modified by John Stuart Mill (1806-1873).  Economists use this school of morals often in their analysis as it usually has some form of cost benefit in-bedded in its decision making.

I know you are a good person, but how did you become that way?  Learning about how we determine what is right or wrong in our society is very important in order to determine where you stand on the issue.  Take some time and ask yourself where you learned your ethics...the answers might surprise you.

Wonderful Moment of the Day: Lost 15 lbs over the last 4 months and am now the weight I'd like to maintain.

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