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is it possible to have your own set of morals that have not been influenced by society in some manner?
This begs the question: is it possible to have your own set of morals that have not been influenced by society in some manner?
Originally posted by Dark Ghost
Have you ever wondered where your morals originated from? Are they inbuilt into your genes, due to the environment in which you were raised, or mirrored behaviour learned from your role models? It's a question we don't often ask ourselves, despite the fact that our sense of morality plays a key role in our decision making in many areas of our lives. Despite the few people in this world who are amoral (without morals), discovering the origins of our morals gives us insight into how society shapes our views.
I contend that the society in which we are raised gives us our sense of morality. It is true that life experience and environmental factors play a role, but even these are largely influenced by the views of society as a whole. That lesson your parents taught you or that experience you had that showed you stealing is wrong both took place within the confines of a society. Both the experience and lesson were passed down by the collective moral compass of society.
Think of the most basic of moral dilemmas, such as being at the convenience store and seeing a magazine you really want for which you do not have the money to buy. Besides the legal ramifications, why is that most people will not steal the magazine? Perhaps it is because you sympathise with the owners of the store, that they will lose money and are a good family. Or because you don't want to be found out and known as somebody that steals. Maybe even because your conscience will not permit you to do such a thing.
No matter the reason, society has shaped your views. Through the use of fables, stories, nursery rhymes and lectures when you are young, to school administrators, motivational speakers and TV personalities when you are a teenager, morals have been implanted into your mind by society by the time you reach adulthood. This begs the question: is it possible to have your own set of morals that have not been influenced by society in some manner?
I believe the answer is no. Society influences our most basic to our most complex moral decision making, whether we want to admit it or not. The capacity to influence the morals of developing minds rests with those bodies that are in positions of power.
edit on 7/7/2012 by Dark Ghost because: (no reason given)
Yet, I have figured out that if it's okay for me to steal anything, then I'm claiming that it's okay for others to steal from me. Plus, I would have to look in the mirror and see a thief, and someone that can't be trusted.
Same moral, but the fiber of one is stronger than the other.
Originally posted by Jean Paul Zodeaux
Morals are concerned with the judgment of goodness or badness. Morals are often conflated with ethics, but there is a distinction between the two. Living as a misanthrope is not immoral, but is unethical. Forming a group which then uses their collective might to undermine or drown out other groups is not immoral but it is unethical. Some...actually many...would like to relegate ethics to a "professional standard" but this misses the point of ethics. Ethics are the strategies we employ to obtain the greater good. The greater good can be reasonably defined as the greatest good to the greatest amount. In this regard, ethics is not concerned with badness, only goodness. Morality, on the other hand, requires judgement of both.
There is language, such as "unethical" that gives an impression of judgement of both bad and good, but again, this term "unethical" is generally used when discussion a "professional standard". Aristotle declared that the greater good is that thing of which all things aim. I believe this is correct. We all aim towards ethical behavior and as such all of us are ethical. The problem is not ethics, but aim. Shooting for the greatest good to the greatest amount requires perfect aim. Most of us aim and miss. The problem becomes even more exasperated by our own level of awareness. The lower level of awareness we are at, the more likely we are going to miss that which we aim towards. This is ethics.
Morality, that judgement of bad and good, generally has its aim too, but it lies more in pro-survival behavior versus anti-survival behavior. It is arguable that smoking cigarettes as a habit is immoral. It is arguable that drinking too much, and especially daily, is immoral. It is arguable that having sex with multiple partners is immoral. These behaviors tend to be anti-survival. This survival can be instinctual but also can be learned. In that regard, morals are both instinctual and learned. Ethics, on the other hand, are not learned, in spite of what any "professional standard" might say. Ethics are our aim and what we all aim towards is the greater good. Hitting that mark - the greatest good to the greatest amount - requires marksmen type expertise, and the necessary vision to hit that mark, but do not allow my analogy to be mistaken as practice.
We do not need to practice ethics. We do not need to learn how to be ethical. We only need to allow ourselves the space to be keenly aware so that we may hit our mark. Part of being ethical requires some sense of morality. We not only have a responsibility to ourselves to survive, we have a responsibility to others to survive. That is the ethics of morality.