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Philosophy: Morality is complicated. Or is it?

Morality is often what people would define as the “right thing to do”.the social construct that is designed to keep order by making people follow these unspoken rules set in place. For instance, while in no state does the law explicitly say that you can’t murder someone, it will still get you arrested and thrown in prison. This seems obvious, but why is it? It’s because society has given us a list of things that are acceptable and unacceptable. The big question, however, is whether or not this list is, or should be, subjective.

To better understand this “list”, it is important to know the difference between what is morally correct and what is morally good. A great example of this is the trolley problem in which you are the conductor of a trolley and have to choose a path. The reason that this is such a morally challenging issue is that because on either side of the track there can be any number of things and one must decide whether to pull a lever and save something while simultaneously letting the thing on the other track get run over. This means that you, as the conductor, will have to choose which of these thing/s would be more beneficial to save. This, however, does not demonstrate moral goodness because the problem’s strict set of rules doesn’t account for the fact that the person may be able to give up their own lives to save the people on both tracks. This greatly shows this difference because while doing nothing would keep the blood off of your hands flipping the lever may be beneficial.

In the article “Morally Good and Morally Right” by John A. Oesterle, he states that being morally good is to have “...good character, [and] good virtue...” these virtues being “courage, justice, [and] temperance”. While being morally right means being brave and doing the right thing. In the article “Right and Good” by Larmore Charles, doing something that is morally right means that it was an obligation and that one only did something because they had to. On the other hand, an action that is morally good means that the sole purpose of the action was to simply be kind or that by doing so it would enhance someone’s life.

These two opinions are fairly different so what really determines how people think about moral dilemmas and issues. Typically most people will base their actions on a single belief moral system, which is defined as moral monism. This is so incredibly common because it’s easy, it’s simple, and for the most part, it works, however, the biggest flaw in this is that it prevents people from walking a mile in someone else’s shoes and changing or even questioning their opinions.

The most common types of these moral monists are harm-based monists, who believe that moral unjust comes forms harming another living creature physically or even indirectly via emotional harm or simply by acting a certain way to someone else.

A significantly better way to process moral information would be through a system of moral pluralism, in which one would base their beliefs, on what makes someone good or bad, off of many conflicting and changing views to have a more diverse idea of how to tackle issues.

So is morality subjective? Yes very, many people have many different views on what makes someone good or bad and how said people should be punished or rewarded. It is so subjective that philosophers have been pondering this question for literally thousands of years and have still not found the answer. But does this mean that people should have different opinions about moral wrongs and goods? Absolutely! It is so important that people can have opinions and thoughts because otherwise our civilization as a whole would never learn and grow from our advancements, and even our failures.

In my opinion, regardless of one’s actions or misdemeanors, one is always morally at fault because everyone is human, and we all make mistakes, big or little, everyone is the same, joined together by our sense of reality as it currently exists, for better or for worse. However, without others, however, there would be no purpose that we as humans could serve, which is why I believe that the most important factor in what makes a person both morally good and right is determined by ones ability to help others in times of sickness or illness, or in times of pure need and helplessness.


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