Philosophical Perspectives on Religion, Ethical and Moral Values (7)

Philosophical Perspectives of Moral Values

The problems of modern moral theory emerge clearly as the failure of the enlightenment project. On the one hand, the individual moral agent, free from hierarchy and teleology, conceives of himself and is conceived of by moral philosophers as sovereign in his moral authority. And on the other hand, it is the inherited, if partially transformed, rules of morality. Some new statuses have to be found, deprived as they have been of their older teleological character and their more ancient categorical character as expressions of ultimately divine law.

Religions, environmental, tax, and social policies develop a moral philosophy framework. A person who acts under duress cannot be judged entirely as a liar, given the circumstances that brought about his lie. There is an ongoing ancient debate in moral epistemology about the epistemic significance of disagreement. An essential question in these debates is to what extent the prevalence and persistence of disagreement of humankind’s moral intuitions cause problems for those who rely on intuitions to make decisions, judgments, and craft moral theories? The word ‘standard’ refers to an act, behavior, or moral principle accepted as normal or usual.

Since both these choices have moral reasons, therefore, ethicists have called such situations moral dilemmas. These types of dilemmas are situations where any choice of action does not lead to morally acceptable consequences. Some scholars like John Stuart Mill feel that individuals should remain in complete control of their lives and the paths they choose to take based on individual circumstances. Others believe that those with strong moral beliefs are the job of guiding and protecting those who have “lost their way, (Reid, 1981). Is the ‘self’ relevant for a moral domain? The question leads to a moral dilemma because actions may be permissible for the self but not so when others are considered.

Moral dilemmas involve conflicts between moral and ethical requirements. Self-sacrifice is a strong indicator of a moral position. Do we always feel the pressure of acting for others, or do we mostly think of ourselves primarily? Altruistic sacrifice has become an essential topic in moral theorizing; though it is rare, some people believe in such sacrifices. Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because God commands it? Plato’s EuthyphroSocrates 469-399 B. C., (1892) sets forth the prima facie dilemma inherent in this question. If God’s commands are based on what is morally good (holy), then it appears that what is morally good has its basis independent of God.

On the other hand, if what is morally good (holy) is because God commands it, then what is deemed suitable might not be deemed good at another point. There would be no objective standard for determining whether anything is inherently good (holy). The conclusion from Socrates’ perspective is that God’s commands are based on what is, in fact, morally sound. However, he acknowledges that this alone does not help humankind understand the nature of moral goodness.

***In the next article (8), I will discuss ‘Three Moral Philosophies.’

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