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Is there a Rational Ground for Morality?

 
 
coberst
 
Reply Fri 10 Apr, 2009 04:33 am
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

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ebrown p
 
  2  
Reply Fri 10 Apr, 2009 11:01 am
@coberst,
Quote:

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


This beginning premise is clearly wrong.

There are plenty of things that are immoral, but not illegal. There are things that are illegal, but not immoral.

My 4-year old has an understanding of right and wrong, mainly due to her developing sense of other people feelings and an sometimes excessive focus on "fairness". Both of these are perfectly good bases for morality that have nothing to do with law.
0 Replies
 
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Apr, 2009 11:07 am
@coberst,
coberst, you really need to get outside more, maybe take a walk in the woods with some bread, cheese and wine in your knapsack.
coberst
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Apr, 2009 01:22 pm
@dyslexia,
I live in the Smoky Mountains and love hiking in the mountains, except on occassion I see something that my vision says is a bear and it scares the dickens out of me.
0 Replies
 
Shapeless
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Apr, 2009 02:07 pm
@coberst,
Quote:
law cannot create a law that dictates an obligation to obey law


Wow. Syllogisms running in circles... it's like opening up a wormhole and traveling through a dimensional time warp to get to exactly where you started. It wouldn't even be worth pointing this out except that it's so characteristic of these posts: abstract concepts wrapped up in more abstract concepts, layer after layer giving you the illusion that you've accomplished something when, in reality, you haven't actually gotten up from your armchair.

Having philosophically meditated on the definition of "law," "morality," "community," etc., what now, Coberst? What can you do with this information? I'm sure you're ready with the reliable "Understanding is the first step to change" retort, but after all these hundreds of posts you'd think we'd be ready for the second step by now.
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Apr, 2009 02:28 pm
@coberst,
Quote:
only if we wish to withdraw into isolation can we afford to ignore cooperation


But that's exactly what you do coberst. You have withdrawn into books and cyberspace and signally fail to co-operate even within your chosen medium of forums. So you are going to look ridiculous arguing for what you avoid aren't you ? Rolling Eyes
0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Apr, 2009 09:20 pm
The rational ground for morality is it maintains stability in society, so man does not devolve into barbarism. Progress can emerge in society with a moral society. Man can then survive better and with a greater population. That is the rational ground for DNA.
0 Replies
 
coberst
 
  1  
Reply Sat 11 Apr, 2009 06:02 am

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.
Shapeless
 
  1  
Reply Sat 11 Apr, 2009 11:49 am
@coberst,
Quote:
In fact as I study these matters I find that the most important concerns of sapiens is morality based.


No one would dispute this, largely because there isn't enough there to dispute. Like the hippie waving a "Give peace a chance" sign, the advice you are offering is undeniably true, and useless; it is right enough to make you feel good about hawking it, but vague enough that you don't have to do anything more because it doesn't provide any help about a course of action. Ironically, one of your frequent sources of authority, Marx, was utterly disdainful about this sort of armchair philosophizing: he recognized the need for theorizing the necessary changes for revolution but had little respect for those who theorized in place of actual action. If anything, self-indulgent (and self-congratulatory) theorizing actually impedes change because it encourages complacency. So my question still stands: what now?
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 06:53 pm
The rational aspect pertains to the difference made between good and bad, but not to virtue and evil. Some things are good for society, for our neighbors and for us, and some things--like pollution the environment are bad. But Morality (with a capital M) is the elevation of good and bad into the more absolute categories of Virtue and Evil. That is not rational; it's cultural fabrication.
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 06:53 pm
The rational aspect pertains to the difference made between good and bad, but not to virtue and evil. Some things are good for society, for our neighbors and for us, and some things--like pollution the environment are bad. But Morality (with a capital M) is the elevation of good and bad into the more absolute categories of Virtue and Evil. That is not rational; it's cultural fabrication. Ideology.
0 Replies
 
John Kennard
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 May, 2009 10:41 am
Yes:

http://www.johnkennard.com/Tuw/Tuwtp.html

John Kennard
John Kennard
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Nov, 2010 10:36 am
@John Kennard,
Sorry, website down temporarily, but you can get the book-formatted PDF (free, of course) from

http://www.lulu.com/items/volume_64/6606000/6606353/10/print/6606353.pdf
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