The term “morality” is used variedly to connote different meanings as it lacks a clear cut definition. It is most often used to refer to some codes of conduct of a given society, religion or that which is accepted by an individual to constitute that person’s behavior. It can as well arguably refer to specified necessities that can be put forward by all reasonable people. Morality differs from one group to another though there are practices that may have universal acceptability whereas others do not (Brandt 1979, p. 1). It is the quality of agreement with that which is perceived as good in society and not doing or being party to that which is deemed unacceptable in society. It is a combination of all the habits that an individual or group takes as right or wrong.
There seems to be no significant difference between morality and ethics as they employ the use of right or good and, evil or bad. It is therefore hard to make a difference between what is good, right, moral and ethical. The understanding of these terms can however be achieved by examining examples of what is moral or immoral. A clear and constant definition of morality may me impossible to attain since each person has a unique background and the fact that society continually changes due to factors like technological advancements and globalization (Williams 1985, p.1)
Foundations of Morality
There are two perspectives that come to the fore when analyzing the basis of morality; religious and secular views. Those who argue from a religious perspective state that morality and religion are inseparable thus; religion according to them is the foundation of morality. This group of people holds that God is the prime foundation of morality while substantiating their proposition by theology. On the other hand, those inclined to the secular view argue that morality is relative to human experience. The divergence of the views is because of the different beliefs the Christians hold as opposed to the secularists. While the Christians belief that humankind originated from God, the secular’s belief is that man originated out of evolutionary developments (Lipe 1987, p.3).
Morality according to the religionists is derived from divine revelation which is the motivation to that drives people to do what is moral. However, the secularists on this ague that people do moral things regardless of their beliefs that are not God related. Religious believers argue that it is religion that necessitates the existence of morality among human beings a fact dismissed by Glenn C. in his “cut-flower thesis” (1972, pp 1-5). It is for this reason that those who consider it important would at all times want to relate morality to religion (Lipe 1987, p.3).
Morality comes with a moral obligation that one cannot be forced to comply with since it is a conscious response to some occurrence that depends on a person’s individual judgment. Thus, saying the truth or choosing to tell a lie are choices motivated by one’s conscious response. Humans therefore tend to trust more personal experiences like when O’Brien argues that he has never deviated from the truth simply because of hiss personal experience of war.
This is based on the fact that there are diverse cultures hence, standards of judgment and morality cannot be the same, are culturally based and thus subject to an individual’s judgement. Here, it is pre-supposed that it is not correct to have a given conclusion regarding another cultural practice. This is so because, one practice that is generally acceptable in one society may be condemned in another because of cultural differences. Relative morality avoids inner judgments that are based on one’s belief of what ought to be done since such are impelled by motivational attitudes. Harman 1977, p. 193 argues that moral judgments can not be made because of different situation that occur like war will be perceived differently hence, such ought not to have happened.
Relativism is motivated by a number of factors. This includes anti-imperialism since it amounts to imposing our measure of what is moral or not ethical on others yet, the cultures are not the same. The existence of cultural diversity is another fact that moral relativism is based upon. Since there is cultural diversity, relative morality holds that there is expected moral diversity. Finally, the fact that it is only a shared way of life that can create a culture hence a common moral practice develops supports those in favor of moral relativism. It is therefore not correct to predetermine what constitutes morality for everyone one including those who do not have a common way of life.
Morality is an aspect that lacks precision in its definition. However, examples of some practices can be given that can give an illustration of what constitutes morality. The common features that define morality are a shared way of life and practices that are generally accepted by a given group of people, religion or an individual. Relative morality seeks to get an understanding of morality based on the fact that there is cultural diversity thus, the existence of varied opinions of what constitutes morality.
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