The Three Main Theories of Morality
The question of what is right and what is wrong has been debated by philosophers for centuries. Many theories have been put forward in an attempt to answer this question, but as yet there is no consensus. In recent years, the debate has shifted from what is right and wrong in an absolute sense to what is right and wrong for a particular individual. This is known as moral relativism.
There are two main types of moral relativism: descriptive and prescriptive. Descriptive moral relativism is the view that morality varies from culture to culture and that there is no objective standard of right and wrong. Prescriptive moral relativism is the view that we should not judge other cultures by our own standards of right and wrong.
Theories of Morality:
There are three main theories of morality: utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics. Utilitarianism is the view that the right thing to do is whatever will produce the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. Deontology is the view that there are certain things that are intrinsically right or wrong, regardless of the consequences. Virtue ethics is the view that the right thing to do is whatever will develop or maintain the virtues (character traits such as honesty, courage, and compassion) in us or in others.
Moral and Rules: A comparison and contrast:
Rules are prescriptive statements about what we ought to do or not do. They are usually based on cultural norms or on the laws of a society. Morality, on the other hand, is concerned with what is actually right or wrong. It is possible for a rule to be immoral, if it prescribes something that is intrinsically wrong, such as lying or stealing. It is also possible for a rule to be amoral, if it does not prescribe anything at all (for example, “Do not walk on the grass”). Finally, it is possible for a rule to be moral, if it prescribes something that is actually right (for example, “Do not lie”).
The implications of following rules:
The main implication of following rules is that we will avoid punishment. This may be punishment from a human authority figure, such as a parent or teacher, or it may be punishment from a divine authority figure, such as God. The second implication of following rules is that we will gain approval from others. This may be approval from those who made the rules in the first place, or it may be approval from our peers. The third implication of following rules is that we will maintain order in society. If everyone followed the same rules, then society would run more smoothly and there would be less conflict.
The implications of following morality:
The main implication of following morality is that we will act in ways that promote goodness and happiness. This may be our own happiness or the happiness of others. The second implication of following morality is that we will avoid acting in ways that cause suffering or harm. The third implication of following morality is that we will develop our character and become better people. By acting morally, we can become more virtuous and compassionate people.
In conclusion, it is important to remember that although it is moral to follow rules, the rules themselves may not be moral. Man has to use other higher sources of morality for guidance.
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