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Do we need doctrines to be Moral?

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Do we need doctrines to be Moral?

Yes
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No
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Depends
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Kylesartre

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Do we need doctrines to be Moral?

Post Number:#1  PostFebruary 25th, 2011, 6:27 pm

I offer an interesting point of view to the conundrum: if morality is not asserted by doctrines, then what?

In my opinion, morality imposed by religion and parenting are rigid rules that cannot apply to every individual and every scenario. Jean-Paul Sartre, a famous existentialist, gave this example in his lecture on humanism: during the German occupation of France, a French youth approached him for advice regarding his dilemma. He wants to escape to England, to join the allied forces to fight the intruders of his motherland but he has an aged old mother at home who is ill and might die if left alone. On one hand his loyalty to his motherland beckons him, and on the other, his piety to his mother binds him. In this situation, what is the moral thing to do? He will be labelled an unfilial son if he chose his country, but he will be dismissed with cowardice if he chose to stay.

We are faced with such "morality greys" constantly in life. It can be trivial but it might also be consequential. We often take comfort and seek solace in rules imposed on us, which we apply to "know" the right thing to do during moral dilemmas. But it is in my opinion that this is the most irresponsible and cowardly act to do. Because by handing our decision making to a fixed set of doctrines, we actually diminish our responsibility in making the decision. If the outcome of the decision is bad, we can always attribute it to the flawed doctrine, or in some instances, continue to believe that as long as we have followed the rule, we have done the right thing. This act of diminishing responsibility is selfish and inhuman. Hence, to be fully human, decisions on morality issues should not be handed over to a fixed set of rules.

Instead, to be fully human, we ought to take full responsibility for our moral actions. And to do so we have to first abolish all taught doctrines on morality. So the main point of discourse begins here.

I believe that in our complex society of interconnections, personal relationships should form the basis of morality.

As social beings, we are able to relate to and form bonds with people. This is how we maintain our complex network of relationships in society. And we should base our moral decisions on our existing relationships with people as this makes us human. An individual would be morally justified to support his ageing parents for giving life and providing for him since he was born. Similarly, an individual will not be morally unjustified should he choose to desert a father that does not provide for but instead exploited the family. I am not stating these examples as "another set of fixed rules" to follow. Instead, I am trying to say that every individual, based on their relationships with people, will be able to make morally justifiable actions. And this decision is not up to others to judge because they are not that individual making the decision and hence cannot fully understand the relationships involved.

So the bigger question comes, basing morality on inter-human relationships could be very narrow in scope. It seems that one can only apply this basis of morality to people they have a relationship with. On the contrary, in my opinion, we form relationships with people we do not know too. For instance, reading a report explicating the atrocities conducted under a military regime makes us detest the dictatorship in rule. Watching the news on catastrophes destroying innocent human lives we sympathize with the victims of floods and hurricanes. These emotions form indirect relationships between ourselves and the subject in perspective. As a result of these relationships, we do charity to save the flood victims and we protests for the human rights of people living under tyranny. This is a specific, relationship based morality decision. This also implies that we do not do charity to causes we cannot feel for. Doing what affects us in our indirect relationships with other people is not only moral - and also human.

The most provocative note in this suggestion of morality is the subjectiveness involved. Accordingly, there are no objective morality anymore. Indubitably, people can easily stray into a subjective state of selfishness and self-denial. An individual can easily convince himself that he is insensate to the feelings of others, or perhaps, he does not need to have any relationships with other people. He can easily justify his own actions as moral.

But we ask ourselves if moral doctrines can help such people? It does not. They will eventually still break the rules which bears no meaning to them. Moreover, setting the boundaries for actions that could undermine our society is not the role of morality - it is that of the law which is based on majority's interests.

Hence, rather than bind ourselves down with rigid doctrines that makes us insensate to making decisions of our own rendering us incapable of bearing responsibilities for our actions, lets free ourselves. Let your moral compass be directed by the source of morality: humanity and its complex interconnections of relationships.

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Scott

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Post Number:#2  PostFebruary 25th, 2011, 7:38 pm

I read your whole post, and I agree with what I understand to be the general sentiment, which is that relationships between people are important and we are wise to strive to make decisions that keep those relationships in mind rather than follow strict doctrines.

But regarding your overall question, you ask, "Do we need doctrines to be Moral?" What do you mean by "be Moral"? Usually, I find that someone says, "be moral," they mean, "follow a certain doctrine," namely the doctrine being followed by the speaker.
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Post Number:#3  PostFebruary 26th, 2011, 5:50 am

Sartre and other Frenchmen endured hated Nazi occupation of their country and there must have been many such conflicts of loyalties. Satre's point I think is that you make your own morality as you live out what you do.You can choose your loyalty to your mother or to some other person or to a cause, and what you choose is what you are.At the moment of your death what you have chosen is this person who is about to die because the narrative of this person's life is how she has acted. I think that this rather scary freedom is the basis of existentialist morality.
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Post Number:#4  PostFebruary 26th, 2011, 12:37 pm

Scott wrote:But regarding your overall question, you ask, "Do we need doctrines to be Moral?" What do you mean by "be Moral"? Usually, I find that someone says, "be moral," they mean, "follow a certain doctrine," namely the doctrine being followed by the speaker.


I appreciate your clarification. Thank you Scott.

I quote Sartre in this meaningful statement: "man has to be considered as the being through which the Good comes into the world" and "Man us the source of all good and all evil and judges himself in the name of the good and evil he creates. Therefore a priori there is neither good nor evil."

Morality is often acquainted with following a speaker's doctrine. But my point here is to break free from this pursuit of rules. We make sense of our own right and wrong through our own reasoning and experience. And we are the only fair judge of our own morality.

To clarify further, I believe that this does not mean shutting out other's opinions. In fact, this means the entire opposite: to open up to the myriad of opinions of others, and put them into the context of yourself as an individual. Only then can we find our own sense of good and evil; and drive our actions based upon our own morality.

This finally implies that we ought not impose our morality codes onto others as doctrines, much less follow a certain doctrine from others.
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Post Number:#5  PostFebruary 26th, 2011, 4:55 pm

Kylesartre,

You say "we make sense of our own right and wrong," but I still am not sure of what you mean. I understand you are thus referring to something subjective, but subjective words can still be defined in a traditional way. For instance, taste is subjective and perhaps even able to be self-manipulated (e.g. one can convince themselves psychologically to not crave a food they used to crave), but one can explain to me what they mean by the word albeit subjectively when they tell me, "ice cream tastes good (to me)." But unlike the word taste, I don't understand what you mean by words like right, wrong, ought and be moral particularly since you have excluded them referring to merely following a certain doctrine.

You say we can find our own sense of good and evil by considering the various opinions of others in the context of our own life. I agree with the advice of taking into consideration the various views of others while not dogmatically following any of them as a doctrine, but I don't know what you are saying we will then be sensing. I know what type of sense you mean if you said when I put ice cream in my mouth I will sense my own taste of it but I do not know what you mean when you say that you or I may sense evil as a subjective quality of some person or event or other thing.
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Post Number:#6  PostFebruary 26th, 2011, 5:54 pm

Scott wrote:but one can explain to me what they mean by the word (taste) albeit subjectively when they tell me, "ice cream tastes good (to me)."

In this example you gave, the word "taste" is not the subjective term. "taste" is the verb/noun that can be defined as the sensation that results when taste buds in the tongue and throat convey information about the chemical composition of a soluble stimulus. The word/idea refers to an action that everyone can relate to and understand, thus not subjective to interpretations. What is subjective, however, is the word/idea of "good". You may find the ice-cream good but I may disagree on it's "goodness".

So in our discussion, the words right, wrong/evil are subjective terms in the two extremes of morality - just as "delicious" and "disgusting" are the two extremes of taste. And if you want a definition of morality. It is the discernment between what's right and wrong (good and evil).

There are 2 major views regarding morality. The first is that there are objective/universal right and wrong. Thus, in this case, morality is the code of conduct (doctrine) imposed by a society/group on people to define their acceptable scope of behaviors. The second view believes that morality is subjective, just as taste is, and that it should be a set of behavior accepted by the individual. I hope this clarifies the definitions of terms used here.

Scott wrote:but I don't know what you are saying we will then be sensing...I do not know what you mean when you say that you or I may sense evil as a subjective quality of some person or event or other thing.

I apologize but I didn't mean it that way. By "making sense" and "our own sense" of "good and evil", I mean our subjective definition of good and evil.

Does this clarify?
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Post Number:#7  PostFebruary 28th, 2011, 2:34 pm

The most useful way to define morality, unless of course you`re associating it at the same in conjunction with a second term placed alongside it is ultimately in the doing for others for the best possible outcome for them.


This would apply in the absense of induction, surely, but in my view perhaps even with it, partly as a constant and partly in flux.

This whilst giving balanced consideration, the balance also being in a state of flux, for past, present, and future influencing states and circumstance, `influences` also being in flux.

I think of ethics in terms of societies imposition of consciousness, and morality in terms of second level consciousness, that level of awareness required to cope with the individual factor.

Example: That 60 year old man that seeks out to chat with six year old girls may be of either the highest or the lowest risk to their well being/There might be considerably more morality in that same man having his eighteen year old girlfriend than she`d likely be privy to morality otherwise, or there might indeed be considerably less.

Not with feelings/ethics, but with truth/morality!

Morality comes not with a feeling for/emotions for what`s true, as is the case for ethics, but rather with what is actually true.
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Post Number:#8  PostFebruary 28th, 2011, 5:25 pm

We have doctrines stating morality because initially humans were unorganized and free. Therefore they took out the difficulties on life on each other, creating an unhealthy imbalance of conflict. Consequently, civilization arose and thus morality was implemented.
morality=equality

[capitalism+libertarianism]=enforced inequality=immorality

therefore: conforming to [capitalism+libertarianism]=immorality
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Post Number:#9  PostFebruary 28th, 2011, 6:58 pm

I understand what you mean when you say words like taste, delicious and disgusting even though they are measurements. But not what you mean by words like morality, right and wrong. Even though it is an admittedly subjective claim, I know what you mean when you tell me a piece of cake you ate was delicious (to you in your opinion), but I do not know what you mean to tell me when you say a certain person or action is morally good or morally right.
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Post Number:#10  PostMarch 1st, 2011, 5:11 am

Advanced chemistry/the fullest possible blending of conscious states plus genuinely unconditional love would surely at least help in creating an environment for common understanding of the nature of (ultimate) morality. After-all we are only concerned here with human morality?
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Post Number:#11  PostMarch 2nd, 2011, 5:19 am

Celebritydiscodave's assumption that there is such an event as 'ultimate morality' is a matter of opinion. Like a piece of cake, one person may say that a certain action is moral and another disagree. True, the great median of opinion in the world today, opinion perpetuated largely by main religions, would chime with
the fullest possible blending of conscious states plus genuinely unconditional love
. We all see how the whole world condemns Gaddafi and calls him mad because he so blatantly and publicly defies that precept. But it was not always so that a dictator however cruel and 'mad' would be universally condemned.We have the bad example shock and awe in Iraq to stop us reacting with military invasion of Libya. Morals are embedded in time and place. Present day morals are cranked, sometimes by learning experiences, up the spiral of infinite change but to assume that there in an end to the spiral is anybody's guess.
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Post Number:#12  PostMarch 2nd, 2011, 6:32 am

Belinda
I`m not however a believer in opinion over such matters, and any absolute position which I put forward for morality is a suggestion for conditions which actually exist in a constant reality. The nature of this constant reality probably does require much further defining however(?)

I do realise what has been written on this subject, and of consequence what almost everyone seems to believe, but I`m not of this opinion myself, not by the definition of morality which I`ve given. I also believe that this definition is the only genuinely workable one.

I suggest to an ultimate morality on the same basis as one might to an ultimate immorality. To understand the nature of the ground in the middle is to understand this term, and hence the sliding scale I propose.

Although my assertions arrise partly from out of instinct, it is also quite possible at the same time that they are the correct ones.

It`s also easily possible that language may be more of an issue for truth here than the looking in the right direction.

My definition for morality didn`t visit a place of opinion!
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Post Number:#13  PostMarch 3rd, 2011, 4:55 am

Celebritdiscodave wrote:
I suggest to an ultimate morality on the same basis as one might to an ultimate immorality



It's nearly always easier to see what is immoral than what is moral. What is the most moral way to deal with this or that evil is not easy to see but the evil itself is often obvious. So the ultimate morality is hard to grasp. Usually nowadays people will prescribe some version of the Golden Rule, but without a hefty admixture of consequentialism the Golden Rule is too vague to define the good in any particular situation.

Moreover the Golden Rule arose during special historical circumstances when man reached that certain stage of civilisation when justice became more important than valour.
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Post Number:#14  PostMarch 4th, 2011, 5:06 am

Belinda
Quite so, but mine is a quite different cake, different by ingredients and different in definition. What I`ve suggested one should add`s the following, sufficient (a certain fixed quota) unconditional love, chemistry (understanding of eachothers person past and present) and a sound mind. The product being, not the same response, but rather the same place on a sliding scale for morality. Morality being in terms of the best outcome for that person as a person.

My reasoning is simple, that this may be the formula, once understood, obviously, for realisation of a high order moral response, regardless of circumstance, for everyone.

High order is not necessarily absolute, for we are only human. There is no requirement whatsoever here to understand the nature of a good moral response, or indeed anything consciously of the nature of morality.

Not to include the human with the human condition, and a thorough understanding of it, philosophical theory apart, may be to only put up white elephants, for what can be genuinely left but for the ether, the submissive in a substantive wrap.

What is established philosophical theory more than controversy, a road to recognition? My suggested route may not lead to absolute answers, but it will surely lead to definitive ones.

I believe that there`s still a case for morality in going back to the beginning and thinking independantly.
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Post Number:#15  PostMarch 4th, 2011, 5:47 am

I partly agree with celebritydiscodave about
place on a sliding scale for morality. Morality being in terms of the best outcome for that person as a person.


But I submit that this is insufficient as a prescription for moral behaviour. I agree with the moral relativity, sliding scale bit, but I think of morality as a nonstarter except insofar as people live in societies with other people, and indeed insofar as all people live perforce with the whole of the organic and inorganic environment.

If
Morality being in terms of the best outcome for that person as a person
. is accepted I think it needs the proviso that the person's personal morality which I presume is self- imposed, also chimes with the needs of his human and natural environment. If not, the person will be lucky to survive as a maverick who cannot think of himself as what he actually and naturally is, a social being.
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