What is morality and how people understand it
When it comes to morality, everybody has his own views and beliefs in this regard. As a matter of fact, every religion, every community/social group, every person considers different things to be moral or not. This is a matter of world perception, of understanding ourselves and of having particular values, which are formed under the influence of culture, traditions, environment and religion, of course. Turns out, there is no any commonly accepted definition of morality, as there is no two equal minds that could think the same way. For this reason, what people in one country/community tend to find moral and absolutely acceptable, people in other countries find unacceptable or even pervert (for example, in Saudi Arabia having four wives is a moral, normal and legally supported occurrence, while in the United States of America it is considered to be quite immoral and illegal). Therefore, in order to understand what is morality, the definition and the meaning of this term, you need to do some research. In this article, you will find some useful and interesting information that will help you proceed to accomplishing your assignment.
One of the most widespread and common definitions of the term is that morality is a system/doctrine of beliefs explaining what is right to do and what is wrong to do. In other words, it has to do with the rules controlling and restricting the behavior of a human: the system of beliefs sets a number of rules and everything that lies beyond the field of these rules automatically considers to be immoral. At the same time, some people think that morality is also a system of measurement that shows the degree according to which an action (thought, behavior, etc.) is right/good or wrong/bad. Generally speaking, it is a measurement of goodness and badness of things in the world.
As we have already said, the issue about morality is as controversial as it may be. If to go deep on this issue, there can be seen that not just two social or ethnic groups (countries, continents) may have different points of view in regard to it, but even people within the same community may argue for and agains different meanings of moral and immoral deeds. In addition, sometimes moral deeds are illegal and vise versa. For example, something may be legally totally justified, but at the same time, it cam be considered to be an immoral deed. In such cases, different definitions of morality causes conflicts inside of a particular group, which leads further misunderstanding.
The origins of the term
The understanding of what is morality is impossible without knowing where this word has originated. As the majority of other terms, which are used in a number of languages and countries around the world, morality originated from the Latin language. In the very beginning of the existence of this term, it served to explain the proper manners and behavior of a person. When people wanted to describe someone’s actions, intentions, words, etc., they used the term ‘morality’ in order to demonstrate how they judge that or another deed.
A number of sciences, such as religion science, philosophy, moral philosophy, ontology, epistemology and many others have researched the issue of what is moral and immoral for hundreds of years and even still there is no a definition, which could satisfy everybody on the planet. All these sciences address the problems of morality and suggest different approaches to research it.
Throughout evolution of beliefs, religious views, appearance of new values and disappearance of old values, the definition of morality has been changing. It has beed developed all these years and it is developing now, because people tend to change, the environment tends to change and the definition of morality changes also.
Morality and religion
There are people, who think that morality and religion are quite the same things. In fact, however, they are not only absolutely different things, but sometimes may be quite the opposite. Morality cannot represent religion (as well as religion cannot represent morality) because these two phenomena belong to two different systems/doctrines of human’s behavior. For this reason, a person can have a clear understanding of morality and act in accordance with all the accepted moral norms and rules existing in the community where he lives, and be an atheist at the same time.
Having said that, different religions not only explain what is morality in different ways, they also provide different approaches to dealing with a number of dilemmas concerning morality. While for some religions, killing people is completely prohibited, for others – it is allowed in certain cases. On the other hand, when it is allowed to kill in accordance with religion, morality says that this is an inappropriate crime that can have no excuses. Taking into consideration all these statements, it would be logical to admit, that in researching morality we don’t have to appeal to religion, since these two phenomena are parallel and can’t be compared or equated.
In addition, it has to be noted that in contemporary society the death penalty is a legal method of punishment people for committing hard crimes. In some countries, it doesn’t even have to be such a hard crime. Corruption is sometimes enough to kill a person legally and in accordance with law. Turns out, there are three methods of measurement what is bad and what is right, since in this case, morality, religion and law provide different opinions.
Therefore, when it comes to defining moral values, it is necessary, of course, to take everything into account, although there is no necessity to form your conclusions on the ground of religion or low. Try to think of morality as of a separate phenomenon that has to be researched apart from all other systems of norms and rules existing in the world. Keep reading to learn how to define moral values of your own and of the society you live in as a whole.
How to define moral values
While ethics deals with defining moral values by researching principles and rules of a just life, you can try to form your own moral values that will reflect you personal views, attitudes and so on. Below, you will find a number of steps that will be useful in determining moral values and principles of your own, while not going too far from the commonly accepted ones in your society.
- First of all, you need to realize that the life that we all have is the only one. There is no way morality should dictate what you should do and what you should not do. The only thing morality should tell you is how to live and get pleasure from living, while not hurting other people. Everything is allowed, as long as it is good for you and not bad for others.
- Remember that morality doesn’t come from law, religion or any other institution. As a matter of act, morality comes from a great number of different sources, but the main source has to be your personal conscience. It is the matter of how you understand the world, because nowadays nobody follows any religious texts by letter, we can only read them in order to learn something, not to follow as an instruction.
- It is important that you realize the biological aspect concerning ethical norms. As it is known, only the strongest representatives of a kind can survive. If you will be too altruistic, there will be a chance that you achieve your goals in life. Therefore, be strong enough, although remember not hurting anyone for your own sake.
- You need to define certain principles that you will follow throughout your whole life. These are going to be the principles/values of your ethic, which you are never going to ignore. Therefore, you need to come up with your own rules, without getting influenced by your community or religion.
- Beware of amoral people. You will meet them throughout your life and there is a possibility that if your principles are not strong enough, you may get confused. Apart from those people who deliberately commit crimes and act like there is no morality in the world, there are also those, who don’t take any interest in the question of ethic norms or morality. Therefore, the only way to follow your own principles is to stay calm and don’t pay attention to what may confuse you.
- Identify principles of morality that you will not be able to follow constantly. There are sometimes situations where the right decision is not the one that matches moral principles. For example, lying is wrong. But is it always wrong? Remember situations when you had to lie in order to not upset someone. In such cases, you may consider ignoring your moral principle concerning lying (if you have such a pronciple), if you have the best intensions in regard to other people.
- Read a lot. This rule works for everything. The more you read, the better understanding you will have concerning morality and how to apply morality to your own life and behavior. First of all, we recommend reading different writings of philosophers (including antic philosophers) and contemporary thinkers. Even though it is not so necessarily to follow every their word, you may still learn a lot of useful and interesting information from their writings.
- Explore the differences between different moral values predominating in different countries. First of all, this will give you knew knowledge and you will be aware of the definition of morality in other communities (social groups, countries, etc.). Second of all, it will help you determine a common/absolute system of rules, taking into consideration the variety of rules existing in the whole world.
- Do some research on contemporary definition of morality and the historical background of this term. What has changed within centuries? Why did something change? Knowing of traditional moral values may be helpful in determining those matching the requirements of contemporary society.
- Remember that your moral code has to be the guide to your whole life. While other people follow what they consider to be appropriate to follow, you heed to keep in mind that your own principles are above everything. At the end of the day, it makes no sense to have a system of moral values and not to follow them.
Note that your brain and your intellect are the best tools to use in all kinds of situations. Every time you feel confused about something, just think thoroughly and rely upon your own conscience.
All the above-provided information should be useful for you when dealing with a writing assignment covering the issue of morality.
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