i have a problem with people who think a) that there is no morality or b) morality is useless. it's not that i have anything personal against their character or anything, i just think it's a bit ignorant. for starters,egocentricism ie. doing everything for your own personal gain, is an accepted moral reason. even if you take that road, there are some things that people do morally despite claiming that morality is an illusion. i remember this business ethics classmate i had and she said something like "morality doesn't feed your kids does it?". what she missed was that wanting to feed rselfyour kids is a moral act from the start. we all do it, like it or not. from here, i would like to discuss the main moral systems and see what people identify with.
as previously mentioned, it's doing everything with the goal of personal gain. make no mistake though, it's not that this person is necessarily a jackass. they could still help people out or whatever, they just think that people confuse helping yourself in the long run with a more romantic moral theory.
2. duty ethics
kantian duty ethics (ie. created by Kant) believes that all that you do should done in accordance to and because of duty. say two people gives a homeless man a dollar. the first man did it because he wanted to look charitable in front of his lady friend. the second guy did it because he believes it's the right thing to do and that he has a moral obligation. one thing that this theory does pick up on is the importance of intent. there's something important in that.
probably the wonder boy of moral theories. it's the most popular amongst philosophers. there is only one mandate in utilitarianism: to do whatever maximizes happiness and reduces pain. before anyone pounces prematurely, the happiness of all that could possibly be affected is calculated and not just the happiness of yourself. furthermore, happiness isn't just simple stuff like eating cake and having sex (as good as that is). there's long term happiness in things such as learning and building friendships. if you go through life thinking 'what what benefit the most people?', you are utilitarian.
4. virtue ethics.
this could be a bit harder to explain, but basically, there are certain 'virtues' that have an innate good of themselves. it is beyond instrumental value. these include things such as love, courage, honesty etc. at first, i thought this theory is a bit shallow, but it has really grown on me. we do say things such as "i don't like him, he's dishonest", or "he needs more love in his heart" without being too metaphorical.
5. human rights
ah... human rights. definitely a popular theory amongst the general public. in fact, people take it as fact. human rights says that every person has these inalienable rights within them. these rights are intrinsically good, much like virtue ethics. however, the difference is that with virtue ethics, it's something for one to attain. in human rights theory, it is something within us that people should not cross or take away. personally, i think this theory is WAY too popular without too much justification.
6. contractarianism/social contract theory
morals are a an artificial construct in contractarianism. the only moral wrong in social contract theory is not obeying a covenant. what is a covenant? if me and john have agreed upon a deal and john has fulfilled his end of the bargain, i am under a covenant to do whatever we have agreed upon. the difference between a covenant and a deal is that john really had no moral obligation to do anything if i haven't acted in accordance with our deal yet. something like justice could be a good example of a social contract functioning. we have all agreed that we should not murder because we want society to be without unnecessary fear. you have broken the rules, therefore we punish you.
7. divine command theory
do what god says.
*8. ethical relativism
i *ed this one, because it's known to be shit. sadly enough though, many people think it's justified. what ethical relativism preaches is simply "i'll live under my rules and you'll live under yours". it's the "let's just get along" theory. this theory looks good but falls apart as soon as someone starts doing something like killing every child they see on wednesdays. you live with your rules and they live with theirs right? well, his moral system can be 'i must kill kids every wednesday', yet i think we'll be very slow to accept a belief system like that.
these are pretty much all the popular moral theories. i'm not gonna force any theory on anyone, but i do want to discuss. enough of this amateur 'does god exist exist' philosophy, there's more to philosophy than religious discussion. let's give it a go.