Tuesday, March 21, 2006

What is "moral"?

What is "moral"? The use I am concerned with is, from the American Heritage Dictionary, 1:Of or concerned with the judgment of the goodness or badness of human action and character: moral scrutiny; a moral quandary.

My question is this; Is there a base criteria that can be reasonably applied to test 'morality' of 'human action and character'?

My answer is this; Yes, there is! And it is simply "Does this action or this aspect of character enhance or advance the survival of the human species?" A 'Yes' answer would indicate 'moral' and a 'No' answer would indicate, at best, neutral and, at worst, definitely 'immoral'.

Now I grant you, as is often the case, while the question is simple, the answer is not. Nevertheless, I can see no other reasonable basis for judgment of 'morality'. What other criteria could we apply that would work in all situations? What other definition of 'goodness' or 'badness' really makes sense?

There is plenty of room for discussion here. What constitutes 'survival'? What constitutes 'enhance or advance'? Maybe those 72 virgins (or whatever the number is) are the best thing for all of us! (Personally, I think somebody forgot to ask the virgins and what about the lady martyrs?) I'm not all that fond of the concept of 'harps in the hereafter' but if you are truly convinced that that is the best we can do then your concept of what is moral might differ from mine. Then at least you will have to make the case that 'harps in the hereafter' are better for the human species than the likely result of my actions if you want me to see your proposed actions as 'moral' and my opposition to them as 'immoral'.

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