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Science & The Supernatural: A Discussion of the World Around us - Based on Science with an Interest in the Supernatural ...
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PostPosted: 18 Oct 2012, 12:15 

Joined: 24 Mar 2010, 18:26
Posts: 3
Location: Pacific Northwet
I recently ended up in a political discussion elsewhere that devolved first into a debate on ideology, then to philosophy, then finally to morality. Not a surprising evolution, really. I generally think that *most* disagreements between people stem from two major underlying viewpoints: Free Will versus Determinism and Ethics & Morality.

When it comes to ethics, my observation (right or wrong) is that most disagreements aren't about the blatant question of whether or not a person or action is immoral... but about the more nuanced question about where the lines are along the moral spectrum. To me, it's never been as simple as moral/immoral - there's a LOT of gray area in the world, and very few things can be cleanly slotted into a black and white view. I tend to think of morality in terms of degrees: prohibited, permissible, laudable, and obligatory.

I would normally assume that the meanings of those classes are pretty straightforward... but my recent discussion seems to suggest that that's a bad assumption. So for clarity or my perspective, I'll add more explanation.

  • Something that is morally prohibited is something that you may not do. If you do it, then that action is immoral. Generally speaking, we would say that murder is morally prohibited - if you commit murder then you have acted immorally.
  • Something that is morally permissible is allowed, with no moral judgment attached. For most of us, this would fall into the general class of amoral actions... like which color socks you decide to wear today.
  • Something that is morally laudable carries a positive moral judgment if you do it, but no moral judgment if you don't. They're things that are good to do, but not required. Most people would consider donating to charity to be morally laudable.
  • Something that is morally obligatory is something that you must do. If you fail to do it, then your failure is immoral. Most of the examples I have for this are religious in nature, things like tithing 10% of your income, or honoring your parents, going to church on Sunday.

When we step outside of religion, however, the topic of moral obligation gets a bit sticky. Many people have discussed the problem of the drowning man - if you walk past a lake and see a man drowning, are you morally obligated to attempt to save him? The underlying concept is whether or not one has a duty to prevent the death of another, when one has had no hand in causing that jeopardy - if you are in no way responsible for the situation, are you obligated to help fix it? The ideas flow through many areas of our lives, including our views toward community and society - how much of other people's burdens should one be expected to bear; to what extent does the welfare of the community outweigh the welfare of the individual?

For discussion, I'm interested in the following questions:

  • How do you view morality, in general?
  • Do you think saving the drowning man is morally laudable or morally obligatory, and why?
  • How does that view extend into your view on society and community?

PostPosted: 18 Oct 2012, 16:32 

Joined: 18 Oct 2012, 16:25
Posts: 2
Depends if you are capable of saving the drowning man.
What I remember from first responder courses was not to get in trouble yourself.
Doesn't do much good to die along with them.

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