Morality, Law, And Politics Essay

2128 words - 9 pages

I can imagine a perfect world. A world where morality is of upmost importance in our dealings with each other, where morals are critically examined, and debated with reason as well as passion. This world would be a pinnacle of human achievement. A pinnacle that we are nowhere near. Why is this? Well, in today's society, morals are often associated with obeying the law, and since laws are legislated by politicians, they are subject to politics. Laws are not right in and of themselves, and morals are not a matter of a majority's opinion. Some matters that are in the domain of charity are done through politics, often citing morality as a reason. Where exactly does charity fit in with morals? With politics? In this paper I will explore the meaning of morality, its justification, and its scope as it pertains to our lives. I will also spend some time explaining how politics, laws, and charity relate to morality, and how politics often assume charitable roles.

Before diving head first into the issues surrounding morals and morality, it is important to have a clear idea of exactly what morals and morality are. First, morals are a set of rules that tell us which actions are permissible and which actions should be denounced by all people. These rules are not a matter of pure personal opinion, feeling or taste. Jan Narveson states in Moral Matters: "[w]hen you have an opinion about morals, it isn't just an opinion about what you, in particular, are to do. For it is also an opinion about what everybody else should do" (MM, 12). Second, these are rules that govern over everybody, not a single individual, or group, or society. If morals did not apply to everybody, what would be the point of acting morally? Most people might act morally, and a few would do as they wish without risk of condemnation. The entire system would be useless. Third, morals must prevail over an individual's wishes if those wishes would lead to wrong-doing. These should be the only rules that may overrule a person's actions, for the more restricted a person's action becomes, the less likely it is that they'll submit to those restrictions. The reason morals may overrule a person's actions because these rules are justified. Without justification, there is no reason at all for people to obey the rules, for in their eyes, the rules would be arbitrary, and thus would lack any sort of authority over people.

Many people ask why morals should be able to prevail over people's desires. This is a valid question, one that must be answered if morals are to be defended. Morals must not only be reasonable for people to follow, but they must also have good reasons for people to follow them, otherwise people would not bother adhering to them. These reasons should motivate people to follow these rules. They must appeal to their perceived interests, but if these rules are to apply to all people, they cannot serve the interests of just a few people. Moral rules are not for imposing your own values...

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