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  1. #1
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    Default Is there a Rational Ground for Morality?

    Is there a Rational Ground for Morality?

    There can be no morality without law but there can be law without morality.

    Law can create particular obligations but law cannot create a law that dictates an obligation to obey law. Law can punish but cannot create the general obligation to obey law. Such an obligation comes via moral character. “Morality must be distinguished from self-interest, although the two can often coincide…What is the rational ground for morality and its obligation?”

    The rational ground for morality rests upon the need for mutual cooperation within a community. With mutual cooperation comes mutual dependence. Mutual cooperation demands trust, which relies upon honesty. Honesty implies obligation. Violence destroys cooperation.

    Cooperation is essential for social life; only if we wish to withdraw into isolation can we afford to ignore cooperation. Empirically we can find cooperation within every community. Morality is about human relationships thus empirically we can find both the need and presence of morality in all communities.

    Morality exists in all communities but it has many variables and much diversity. Three factors are important here: differences in religion, differences in politics, and differences in production and economic relations.

    “Certain moral commitments with their attendant obligation are necessary for any kind of human co-operation whatever. These must first be acknowledged before there can be other values which vary. This is an a priori not an empirical thesis.” By definition, a group of individuals without human co-operation is no community at all.

    A diversity of moral codes within a community can be accepted but primary loyalty to all within the community must be to the community and not to particular groups or classes within the community. Those values that unite must be more important than those that divide.

    A community is a group committed to the rule of law, which entails three specific principles of law: the law is supreme with equality and freedom under the law. Legal rules are supreme and all members are subjected to and protected by those rules.

    Public interest, when properly understood, forms the “rational basis of both government and politics”.


    Quotes from The Morality of Politics edited by Bhikhu Parekh & R. N. Berki

  2. #2
    Nips away your dignity Fluffywolf's Avatar
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    In the eye of the beholder, morality is always rational.

    An anarchist finds morality outside of law. To an anarchist, that is his/her rational morale.

    Law and morale remains rational for the duration the people, following that law and morale, remain content with it. If, in the eyes of the followers, there is no rationality anymore in the current situation. The followers will stop following it and try to influence law and morale until their ideals are met once more.

    Democracy is fluid and allows for changes in order to keep most of the followers happy with the situation.


    Fate lies in the hands of the beholders. If the man makes a choice between an apple or a banana. Then his choice is of his making. And thus his consequence. Though law, morale and rationality may shift from a singular point of view over time. But at any one time, in the eye of the beholder, there is only one form that is right.

  3. #3
    DoubleplusUngoodNonperson
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst View Post
    Is there a Rational Ground for Morality?
    It doesn't matter if there is or isn't a "rational ground" for Morality... it's just there. I find the question as pointless as asking "Is there a Rational Ground for Red?"

    What matters is how morality IS USED... or, perhaps more interesting, when do humans IGNORE their Morals? Do psychopaths have a "Moral Sense" and if so, what's going on? Whether any of the answers to those Qs are "rational" or otherwise means nothing IMO...

    Then again I'm becoming a pragmatist more and more everyday so I only care about useful questions :P philosophy is your playground, too

  4. #4
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    I thought the rational basis for morality was self interest and seeking to maximize rewards and minimize punishments.
    Quote Originally Posted by Silently Honest View Post
    OMNi: Wisdom at the cost of Sanity.

  5. #5
    DoubleplusUngoodNonperson
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    perhaps..... yet...

    why do Marines and Soldiers jump on live grenades to save their companions? Even if morality is as hollow as you suggest(and believe me I'm pretty much there with you...), you still have to explain a lot of strange "Morality-related human behavior"

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    Quote Originally Posted by nozflubber View Post
    perhaps..... yet...

    why do Marines and Soldiers jump on live grenades to save their companions? Even if morality is as hollow as you suggest(and believe me I'm pretty much there with you...), you still have to explain a lot of strange "Morality-related human behavior"
    Well clearly they weren't acting very rationally.

    I'm being sarcastic. The ego is the basis of reason, and it is focused on self preservation. Acts that supersede self preservation and self interest are therefore inherently irrational. Morality is also based largely on values, which in themselves, are often irrational. Arguing a rational ground for morality just means you value principles of conduct that maximize your chances of survival.
    Quote Originally Posted by Silently Honest View Post
    OMNi: Wisdom at the cost of Sanity.

  7. #7
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    I have a constantly changing attitude toward morality. My views are changing because I am constantly studying subject matter that is related to the problem of morality. In fact as I study these matters I find that the most important concerns of sapiens is morality based.

    I have a cartoon figure that my son has crated for me that speaks to my general attitude toward morality. The figure has an Arnold-like upper torso set on two spindle weak veracious veined legs. The upper torso is our ‘man of science’ and the lower body represents our ‘science of man’, i.e. morality. We are rapidly running out the clock on human survival unless we quickly develop a moral code that will allow us to live together.

    I suspect that almost all of us would behave uniformly when encountering face-to-face with another person’s misfortune—we would all feel instant sympathy. We are born with ‘sympathetic vibrations’--we often automatically tear-up in all the same situations. However there seems to be two moral concepts that determine many social-political situations.

    “The two main concepts of ethics are those of the right and the good; the concept of a morally worthy person is, I believe, derived from them.” This quote and any others are from “A Theory of Justice” by John Rawls.

    It appears that both philosophy and common sense distinguish between the concepts ‘right’ and ‘good’. The interrelationship of these two concepts in many minds will determine what is considered to be ethical/moral behavior. Most citizens in a just society consider that rights “are taken for granted and the rights secured by justice are not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interests.” The Constitution of the United States defines the rights of all citizens, which are considered to be sacrosanct (sacred or holy).

    Many consider that the “most rational conception of justice is utilitarian…a society is properly arranged when its institutions maximize the net balance of satisfaction…It is natural to think that rationality is maximizing something and that in morals it must be maximizing the good.”

    Some advocates of utilitarianism believe that rights have a secondary validity from the fact that “under the conditions of civilized society there is a great social utility in following them [rights] for the most part and in permitting violations only under exceptional circumstances.” The good, for society, is the satisfaction of rational desire. The right is that which maximizes the good; some advocates of utilitarianism account for rights as being a socially useful consideration.

    Captain Dave will under no circumstance torture a prisoner. Captain Jim will torture a prisoner when he considers such action will save the lives of his platoon.

    Some utilitarians consider the rights enunciated in the constitution are a useful means to fortify the good. Captain Jim, while recognizing the rights in the Constitution, considers these rights are valid and useful but only because they promote the good. The rights defined in the Constitution can be violated but only in the name of the common good.

    Captain Dave may very well be an advocate of utilitarianism but he considers that right is different in kind from good and right cannot be forfeit to good under any condition.

    Liberals take the stance that to agree on the fact means to agree on the morality of the situation. Any deviation is indefensible and reflects only selfish rationalization. Liberals find it almost impossible to respect the moral position of conservatives and conservatives find it impossible to judge that liberals are the intellectual equals of conservatives.

    The apparent reason for this disjunction is the fact that liberals and conservatives seem to have “their own kind of morality” according to the analysis in ”The Morality of Politics” by W. H. Walsh.

    “What we need to observe is that conservatives and liberals are working within different traditions of morality. The morality of the conservative is closed morality; it is the morality of a particular community. The morality of the liberal is an open morality; it is a morality which has nothing to do with any particular human groups, but applies to all men whatever their local affiliations.”

    I was raised as a Catholic; I was taught by the nuns the Catholic doctrine regarding sin, punishment, and consciousness. Venial sins were like misdemeanors and mortal sins were like felonies. However, this is not a completely accurate analogy because if a person dies with venial sin on the soul s/he would be punished by having to spend time in purgatory before going to heaven but if a person died with mortal sin on the soul s/he went directly to hell for eternity.

    Confession was the standard means for ‘erasing sin from the soul’. A confession was considered to be a ‘good confession’ only if the sinner confessed the sins to a priest and was truly sorry for having committed sin. A very important element of a good confession was an examination of consciousness, which meant the person must become fully conscious of having committed the sin.

    Ignorance of the sin was no excuse just as ignorance of the law is no excuse. Herein lays the rub. Knowledge and consciousness of sin were necessary conditions for the erasure of sin from the soul in confession.

  8. #8
    Senior Member velocity's Avatar
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    yea, there is a rational basis for morality .. just like there is a rational basis for everything. morality itself can be viewed as "utilitarian", but its dressed up in nice little fuzzy wrapping paper to preserve our pretty little world


    Quote Originally Posted by coberst View Post
    “What we need to observe is that conservatives and liberals are working within different traditions of morality. The morality of the conservative is closed morality; it is the morality of a particular community. The morality of the liberal is an open morality; it is a morality which has nothing to do with any particular human groups, but applies to all men whatever their local affiliations.”
    .. wtf? this is completely wrong, horrendously biased, and shows no understanding of either ideology at all. come on, defining one side as having a "closed" morality and the other as "open?" hmm. broad false generalizations layered upon ever broader false generalizations. conservatism and liberalism have been so distorted that most people don't know what they are talking about and/or subscribing to when they say they are "republicans" or "democrats" these days (not like there is much difference in washington) - and certainly shouldn't project moral judgments in reference to political affiliations.

    Conservatism -
    while actions are both enabled and constrained by factors outside of our control we always have the ability to choose
    a good society exists when people take responsibility for their decisions
    people should be self reliant, and the government should be down-sized and organized in order to benefit everyone and not just less responsible people or decision-makers in power. in this way, the the “free market” can operate more effectively
    communitarian relief should be used sparingly because the more the government helps people, the less individuals take responsibility
    and the less society prospers

    Liberalism -
    the government should be used to negate any threat to individual or collective liberty and to better society
    an individual’s freedom is not more important than the freedom of all members of society
    the government should infringe on individual rights if an individual is infringing the rights of others
    oersonal advancement is good, as long as it doesn’t impede the advancement of others
    the good society exists when all people have the opportunity to pursue individual goals
    the “free market” invariably must be regulated

  9. #9
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    I think that the rational grounds is that usually if you do a good thing for someone they will do it back. You act morally toward someone usually they do it back. It's about giving and receiving, would you rather just have nothing or just have a bunch of immoral morons running around?
    () 9w8-3w4-7w6 tritype.

    sCueI (primary Inquisition)

  10. #10
    DoubleplusUngoodNonperson
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    ^ that's not considered Moral Action by many BECAUSE of the incentive that goes along with it... doing good to receive good can be done by a Moral agent as well as an Evil one, therefor is a poor criteria when talking about this.... Morality has to be that which goes AGAINST self-interest, ultimately. The grenade example is Prime Meat because when people look back on soldiers who do such acts, they think "He must've had a moral sense of duty to others"

    Morality is supposed to be that which "goes beyond animal nature" or however its to be termed; that goes beyond the "Sophisticated Animal" hypothesis of human nature.... without going beyond that, there is no morality

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