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A Case For Morality

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As time and technology progress, there remain very few things that are still deemed unexplainable. Modern science has made it possible to explore at length our existence, our history and have even made it feasible to glimpse the future. Through time, the ability of humans to cognitively think about the broad scope of being has made these advancements possible. One lingering inexplicable concept of life is the innate sense of moral good we are born with; ethical behavior that most humans tend to lead their lives by. In current times of injustice, cruelty, and modern brutality, it is easy to argue that the term morality has seen its demise. In such a diverse world, how can there be one set of guiding principles discerning right from wrong when those two concepts are not universal? As Michael Pollan states in his piece “An Animal’s Place”, “morality is an artifact of human culture, devised to help us negotiate social relations”. If society did not exist, the concept of morals would be futile. As we have evolved over time though, the universal concept of societal living has taken hold thus morals must exist for humans to coexist harmoniously.

Morality functions as a mechanism of society in which all individuals are held accountable to each other by each other. It is a set of accepted principles on which a society decides upon right and wrong which, if violated, the perpetrator will face their fellow citizens as jury. Moral and ethical codes are different than written law in that they are not a black and white set-in-stone set of rules which are carried out by one higher power. These rules are set by many players in the society because individuals are not reasonable or rational enough to achieve this on their own. These social relations are set as a guide point for conduct which all humans partake in. A collective group thought is likely to hold more people to the rules in this social system. In order to have this kind of a system work, similar judgments must be shared throughout the majority of society. The rules are used to judge all members, and the rules must be fairly broad and universal. The people within this system do not stand to gain anything from acting morally, but rather do it out of a sense of social responsibility. If these moral and ethical codes did not exist, citizens would not be able to function properly in their own society. The Golden Rule of do unto others would be violated left and right, leaving chaos and injustice to ensue. Morality is needed in this instance to ensure society and the citizens within it are able to equally live as comfortable as possible.

In a broad sense, people need morals to live comfortably in our society and this societal structure is passed down through families, role models and authority figures. Throughout time, it can be said that morals change; from generation to generation the collective idea is not the same. Regardless of what previous generations thought to be right and wrong, a constant remains: passing down values from one body of individuals to another. What one generation has learned is important because it gives structure to their beliefs and judgments. One way to think about it is that older generations have the benefit of testing their judgments, which are tried and true. Their experiences shape the way they think about things, which when passed on can be immeasurably valuable to people that follow in their footsteps. Most people are born with some form of moral instinct, ideas or emotions that are known and understood universally such as justice, rights and obligations, shame, guilt, etc. These innate instincts stem from the human ability to feel pain and empathize with others. The job of older generations is to hone these instincts, explain to younger citizens why we as humans feel this way to pass on necessary values. Parents, guardians, and any influential adults have the precious ability of passing on these morals to contribute to a functioning culture. These older generations insure that the future will have a functioning set of morals which have been tested through time which will continue to work as time goes on.

Morality is not only needed to define a society and pass on values from previous generations, it is needed for humans to define what they think



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