I feel it's important to have a code and live by it. I'm not too concerned what your particular code is, as long as you have one and stick to it I can respect that. That is obviously the short answer.
My personal code generally amounts to doing as little harm as possible and doing good whenever possible. I feel there are small moments in almost every day where you can make a difference. This may be as small as waiting twenty seconds to hold a door because you see a disabled person approaching. It all counts. If you can avoid doing harm then small acts of goodness push you increasingly further into the plus column.
When buying something I will drop my loose change into a charity collection box if one is available. I don't go out of my way to donate or donate in large amounts. But my feeling is that if everyone did small acts of goodness whenever possible and tried to avoid doing anything harmful the world would be a much better place.
Perhaps surprisingly good manners feature prominently in my code.
I enjoy surprising strangers with random acts of kindness. I feel that a small gesture from me could improve their whole day and could result in a pay it forward kind of scenario.
Sadly I tend to hide my more generous qualities from my friends and family. I think many of them would associate kindness with weakness.
I do not believe in any kind of god yet I feel my lack of religion strengthens my own personal morality. I believe there is no point to existence and that life is essentially painful and meaningless. I don't wan't to make that situation any worse. We're all in this together so let's make the best of it.
I hate to take the discussion somewhere else and disagree with all of you, but I feel like the entire issue of "How seriously do you take morals" needs to be recast.
The real question here is not how seriously you take the concept of morals, which has roots in the law and branches in social relativism, but rather "How tightly do you hold to your own moral code, and what elements does that consist of?"
It's not a big difference, true, but it sort of allows me to disrupt the original question and bring about the topic I wanted to discuss.
I feel like morals are binding - or 'taken seriously' - to the extent that a presence of outside stress is acting on the individual. It's actually a fairly simple concept, but I doubt you'd find someone who would inherently be prepared to commit assault (battery in some places). Add some pressure in the form of peer pressure, economic duress, or emotional pain, and you get a far different outcome.
Friends eat friends when a plane crashes in the Andes. Doting husbands murder their wives when they find them with a lover. Girls will give it up when their thoughts and emotions are twisted into a confused mess. Soldiers prepare to kill for duty. Someone wrapped in the cocoonlike haze of their easy lifestyle reaches out for something and takes it. Employees bend the rules a little because the boss needs it done today.
And so on down.
It's hard to imagine where exactly your own actions will stop as if they'd hit a wall. You've robbed her and knocked her unconscious - why not have your way? There's a knife in your hand and an intruder in your house. You come face to face with the woman your father shattered a family for and she looks straight past you.
Is there a nugget of absolute will that will always refuse to bend for a moral code? In dealing with the absolute, I'd have to venture a no. It isn't a statement on under what conditions people will cross a line - just that given sufficient cause, you can see all those lines disappear.
Fact - There is a 420% higher chance of your date being willing to slip you a drug to increase the chances of sex when they are aroused. This marks an increase from 5% to 26%. There is a 125% higher chance that someone will keep trying to have sex after their date says "no" if they answer the question while turned on. That's 45% up from 20%. (Source - a survey result in Dan Ariely's Predictably Irrational, 2009 edition).
I'm not necessarily saying that a Leviathan-like war of all against all is necessary to truly test our moral mettle. I'm just saying that we can't make informed judgments on what we will and won't do while coolly reflecting in front of a computer screen.
Perhaps not, but we can decide what we believe we should do. There is still value in this. You must be more likely to do the "right" thing in any given situation if you've ever given serious thought to what you believe the right thing is. If you're considering the idea for the first time while in the heat of the moment it's got to be more likely you'll do something you'll regret later. Especially if something like peer pressure is involved. Right?
Originally Posted by T-6005
I'm not sure. Morals and punishment are as much societal as they are personal.
Peer pressure is inherent in the act of living socially - in normativity. It's only challenged or subverted when breaking the rules.
In any case - deciding what you believe is right is as much a product of your environment as it is a product of your reflection. Almost certainly much more.
I'm sort of working through this as I write it. Sorry for the scatterbrained thoughts.
In controlled conditions, we can consider how we should act. That much is true. Whether it's of any use is another question entirely. You say that you're more likely to do the right thing as long as you have given serious thought to what that "right thing" is beforehand. Even there I'm not so sure. Flying blind a bit here, but I'll refer back to the study I used in the last post - with arousal, our moral boundaries fluctuate wildly. It's a common, recurring, and sometimes even casual part of our lives, and it affects the things we're willing to do. That's a scary thought to me. We are not truly in control of decisions we deem to be arrived at by careful, serious thought. How can we predict our relations to things outside of our own heads?
And this study has yet to be repeated with duty, rage, grief, starvation or terror - the sorts of emotional elements that would truly test the boundaries of our ethics. We know what we should do - debatably - but we know what we want to do even more.
That's even ignoring the societal impact of tradition and its effect on what we are and aren't willing to do, depending on where it comes from.
Example - The difference between murderers and soldiers. I'm not disagreeing with the distinction, mind you, merely putting it out there as an example of moral flexibility. The act of taking a life is split between the two - the difference being that one is sanctioned and one is not. One is usually accepted as being superceded by duty, whereas the other is only considered in relation to the particular stresses around it, yet still regarded as something which is wholly outside traditional moral acts. The act itself, however, is arguably the same - the act of taking lives (or if you prefer your direct verbs, the act of killing).
It's a bad example, but I trust the nugget enfolded in it will get through.
I do a few things, like smoke weed every now and then and occasionally speed or run a red light when I know I can get away with it. Legal shit, nothing major.
But I do take my morals seriously.
I wasn't raised in a religious household, so most of my morals are not from a bible, but from people around me, like friends, relatives and teachers. So, when I come to a point where I question what I am doing morally, I don't think of, "will god punish me if I do this?", I think of, "Will I be able to respect myself knowing I've done something like this?". Sometimes, you really have to weigh the options and think of the outcome.
I would be like stealing a loaf of bread to feed your family. Sure, it's stealing, but is more important to you than feeding your family? Not the best example, but thats what comes to minds.
Indeed. In some ways you could almost imagine our species to be an advanced specimen of AI. We can exhibit the illusion of genuine intelligence yet really the decisions we appear to be making are in fact the result of stimuli activating predetermined responses programmed in to us by socialization, evolution etc.
Originally Posted by T-6005
It's a bit more than a scary thought really. It's depressing.
Are you implying that the two will usually be in opposition? I suppose I could make an argument for that. The "right" thing to do seems to be widely considered to involve placing the emphasis on the good of the group over the good of the individual. But evolution has presumably bestowed us with a deep instinct for personal survival. Essentially saying that selfishness is built into us. So what then? Our decisions are nothing more than a power struggle between evolved instinct and societal conditioning? Can we only make real decisions when the stakes are low to begin with and we aren't horny/hungry/whatever? Or even then?
Originally Posted by T-6005
It seems to me that this example ignores the individual's ability to control the affect that arousal has on compromising moral values. And this conversation about morality is really about individuals, right? True, this study proves that with society in general, morals values in this particular situation fluctuate when an individual becomes aroused. But wouldn't the ability to overcome the influence of arousal indicate a person who is of higher morals?
Originally Posted by T-6005
I am absolutely certain, that there are certain things I will not do, under any circumstances. I mean, except maybe with a gun to my head.
My Moral List:
I do take my morality serious and my parents didn't raised no fool. Life is short. Drugs are bad. Alcohol is bad. I don't condone in violence, etc. Stealing is wrong. Wisdom is right. Education is important. Job is working your way up to the top. Be super humble and down to earth. Respect your neighbors and strangers. Love your family and friends. Help the elders and the less unfortunate ones. Rescue the animals. Save the planet. World peace. Enjoy life to the fullest. Smile and laugh. Share a kiss or a hug. There's always a tomorrow and forever and a day. Take care, folks.
Why do you insist on this necromancy?? Seriously.