Philosophy Essay

981 words - 4 pages

Philosophy of the Person II4/02/12The Basis of Moral LifeA moral life is one that can be considered lived with the intentions of executing actions that are "good." Some feel that actions that should be considered "good" are based on personal feelings and individual decisions. However, others believe that morality can be reduced to a set of laws or commandments. Both can set one in the proper moral direction, but it is one's personal feelings and individual decisions that should act as the primary moral compass for living a "good" life.One of the issues that arises when morality is based on laws is that laws can at times be interpreted differently and tend to change over time. This flexible nature of laws shows that lawmakers do not always make the correct decisions when judging how citizens should act and that the perception of what is right and what is wrong also changes over time. For example, for a long period of time segregation was legal in the United States. Now it is universally accepted that treating all races as equals is the moral way to live despite that segregation was at one point legal. Therefore, it is necessary for one to make his or her own moral decisions because the contemporary laws may not always be the most up to date reflections of how citizens should act. In addition, at times lawmakers are forced to make decisions based on what will give them the best chance at reelection and not what is best for a moral society as a whole. Because of this, laws are not always a reliable source for moral direction. It is much more reliable to follow one's own personal feelings because these will be much more reflective of contemporary morality and will not be biased by a political system.Despite that laws can at times not be reflective of the best way for a society to act, there can be some benefit to using laws as a sort of moral compass. Laws can still establish a good outline for how one should act in most situations. In addition, despite that morality changes over time, there are certain ideas that have always been accepted as moral or immoral. For example, there was never a period of time when it was considered acceptable to steal another person's belongings without their consent. It is laws like this that will always be applicable and can serve as a baseline for moral behavior.Another issue that arises when reducing morality to a set of laws is that it is nearly impossible to create laws that can be universally accepted by everyone. Values tend to be derived from one's family and one's culture. Everyone has a different background mix and therefore a different perception of morality. For example, in many Asian cultures it would be considered disrespectful to enter another's house without taking one's shoes off. This concept is not as prevalent in American cultures. As a result, making a moral law about shoe...

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