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Ethics & Morality: Reasoning about Morality, Ethics, Ethical Behavior

There is a great deal of debate on the issue of morality: how can an atheist be moral? does morality require religion? Is Christian morality best?
  1. Ethics Polls
  2. Books: Morality, Ethics
  3. Bioethics (35)
  4. Ethical Systems (5)
  5. Ethics and Culture (16)
  6. Privacy and Autonomy (9)
  7. War and Morality (11)
  8. Capital Punishment (6)
  9. Morality - Offsite Links (15)

Godless, Secular Values: Which Godless, Secular Values are Most Impor…
Religious theists may claim that their religious morality is superior to secular, atheistic, and godless morality, but there are plenty of secular, godless values that require neither theism nor religion. In fact, there are values which are contrary to many fundamental religious perspectives. Some atheists focus on intellectual values like skepticism and critical thinking while others focus on po…

God, Morality, & Principled Choices: Is Divine Command Morality Even Moral?
The divine command theory of ethics is the idea that nothing is right or wrong outside of God's will. If God wills something, then it's good. If God wills that something not be done, then it's wrong. Good and evil are not independent of God and God's will. Can we really say that this is a genuine theory of morality, though? If not, then divine...

Godless Ethics, Morality, and Values: Do Godless Morals & Values Exist?
It's common for religious theists to claim that their religious morality is far superior to secular, atheistic, and godless morality. Of course everyone prefers their own religious morality and the commands of their own god, but when push comes to shove the general attitude is that any religious morality based upon the commands of any god is...

Going Easy on White Collar Crime
The Christian Right gets a lot of political milage out of portraying itself as standing up for moral values and standing firm against immoral behavior. They benefit from an image of being tough on crime, but not all crimes are created equal: for some strange reason, crimes committed by poor minorities are the ones that receive "toughness" while white-collar crimes are given a much lighter touch.

Godless Moral Values: Can Godless Atheists Have Moral Values?
A popular claim among religious theists is that atheists have no basis for morality - that religion and gods are needed for moral values. Usually they mean their religion and god, but sometimes they seem willing to accept any religion and any god. The truth is that neither religions nor gods are necessary for morality, ethics, or values. They...

Morality & Religion
Most religious believers tend to connect religion and morality in such a way that one becomes unthinkable without the other. Thus true, genuine religion necessarily makes one a more moral person while being a moral person signifies that one has and requires true religion. None of this is true, though - the connection between religion and morality is at best incidental.

Religious Morality: Poison that Destroys our Internal, Natural Morals
It's common for religious believers to insist that religion generally, or their religion in particular, is necessary for moral behavior. They also insist that their god is responsible for the existence of morality, such that morality and moral behavior aren't possible absence worship of their god. It's possible, though, that religious and theistic belief may be dangerous for moral behavior.

Evil vs. Virtue: Which Should We Focus On?
The major Western religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - are often noted for their emphasis on defining bad behavior and explaining in great detail all of the things a person shouldn't do. Some in the West have developed the impression that this is inherent in the nature of religion, but that's not correct. Other religions focus less on condemning sin than on encouraging virtues.

Conservative Morality is Not Moral or Ethical
Conservatives, and especially conservative Christians, tend to argue that everything which is wrong with America today can be traced to the predominance of "liberal" morality. According to such conservatives, we'd all be better off if we would focus more on restricting sexual, private behavior. Is there any evidence that the people who do this are, in fact, better and more moral than others?

Social vs. Private Masks: Is it Wrong to Act Differently in Public?
Everyone acts differently around different people: they behave one way with their spouse, another with strangers, another with parents, and still another with employers. Is this appropriate? Some have argued that such 'social masks' are a form of dishonesty, a way to conceal our true selves from others.

Is There No Limit to Markets and Capitalism?
Some believe that free market capitalism is the moral and practical basis for all social relationships and all types of freedom. Real freedom requires the unfettered ability to exchange goods and services, so people should be permitted to sell and trade anything. Is this right, though? Is there really nothing that shouldn't be up for sale?

Morality of Rich vs. Poor in America
In America, it almost doesn't seem to matter what you do to succeed: as long as you do succeed, people will praise you and, if necessary, make excuses for you. Failure, on the other hand, causes you to be condemned - even if your failure is arguably due to factors outside your control. Why is this?

Robin Hood: Stealing from the Rich
If you were able to steal from money from rich people without hurting anyone in the process and without being detected, and then were to give the money to very poor people so that they could avoid starving, being sick, etc., would you do it? Which is the most ethical choice: to leave the money with the rich people who own it or give the money to the poor people who need it to survive?

Morality and Impartiality: Must Moral Actions Be Impartial?
If you are trying to arrive at the most moral decision, should you seek to reason as impartially and objectively as possible, or should you allow your biases and personal, subjective preferences to play a role? Most people would probably go with the first option, but there are good reasons to reject it, at least when it comes to some types of choices.

Vegetarianism and Philosophy: Who Thinks About Animal Welfare?
Does studying philosophy influence what you conclude about moral dilemmas? Absolutely, there is no disputing this - an education in philosophy has important consequences for how a person reasons. Does it improve how one reasons? One would hope so. Does it improve the quality of one's conclusions on moral dilemmas? That's an interesting question.

Language, Experience, and Animal Rights
What role does language play in the development of our cognitive abilities? Some might think that language is simply an expression of our abilities, but there are good reasons to think that the development of language ability is, itself, the way we develop our cognitive abilities in general. This has implications for who we are as individuals and as social beings.

Internet Communities and Reinforcing One's Assumptions
Many people think that one of the best things about the internet is how it can bring together people with similar interests from all over the world - people who can relate to one another but who would never be able to interact in real life. At the same time, though, this allows people to avoid interacting with those who are different - and that can be dangerous in the long run.

Empathy and the Uniqueness of Human Beings
Most people would probably agree that empathy not only exists, but is in fact an important and fundamental aspect of being human. Anyone not capable of empathy is regarded as a sociopath, someone not to be trusted. Empathy is thought of as a basis for morality and social organization. But is it, really? Is real empathy even possible?

Morality, Law, and the Powerful
All human cultures have a morality of some sort, but do they all have the same morality? No, and this has led some to argue that there is no universal morality - that all morality is simply relative to time, place, and culture. Extreme versions of this practically deny morality entirely, which has led to extreme reactions from the other side.

What are Ethics and Morality?
The terms ethics and morality are often used interchangeably - indeed, they usually can mean the same thing, and in casual conversation there isn't a problem with switching between one and the other. However, there is a distinction between them in philosophy which will be maintained throughout this FAQ.

Ethics and Morality: Who Cares?
Why be concerned with moral theories and distinctions between different types of moral theories? Why bother with some of the difficult questions which are raised in metaethics? Everyone is brought up with some sort of moral system, and it usually works out fairly well - isn't that enough? What's the point of bothering further?

Ethics, Morals, and Values: How do they relate?
One of the most important characteristics of moral judgments is that they express our values. Not all expressions of values are also moral judgments, but all moral judgments do express something about what we value. Thus, understanding morality requires investigating what people value and why.

Ethics: Descriptive, Normative and Analytic
The field of ethics is usually broken down into three different ways of thinking about ethics: descriptive, normative and analytic. It isn't unusual for disagreements in debates over ethics to arise because people are approaching the topic from a different one of these three categories. Thus, learning what they are and how to recognize them might save you some grief later.

Nietzsche Genetic Fallacy Morality
Friedrich Nietzsche argued that Christian morality is based on the "slave morality" of the slaves in ancient Rome. Is this an example of the Genetic Fallacy or a legitimate critique?

Morality, Law, and Power: Does Might Make Right?
All human cultures have a morality of some sort, but do they all have the same morality? No, and this has led some to argue that there is no such thing as a universal morality. Instead, all morality is simply relative to time, place, and/or culture.

Private vs. Public Morality
According to many conservatives, what matters most is how people behavior privately. According to many liberals, what matters most is how people behave publicly. What's particularly interesting, though, is the way religion intersects with this issue.

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