Monday, April 20, 2009

Morality is impossible without Religious Devotion To Duty

John Kavenaugh wrote this intriguing article for that left-wing Catholic magazine America. In it, he states that the real problem with moral relativism is that you end up demanding that Other people follow rules that you won't follow yourself- and that the Philosopher Kant argues against this, while arguing for freedom.

I find this fascinating, because I myself have a basic philosophical problem with freedom: Political and Religious Freedom contains the Freedom to Do Good, but it also contains the Freedom to Do Evil.

Immanuel Kant counters this with the idea that if you're going to hold to a principle, you should hold it yourself as a religious duty to the greater good. After all, what good is having a rule if you won't follow it yourself?

This, to me, is the core of morality- to do what is right in the service of the greater good. It's also the core of just about every major religion on the planet, save Protestantism, which has the concept of being saved by Faith Alone (despite the Biblical pronouncement against this in the book of James- which claims we are saved NOT by faith alone, but by good works).

September 2008 taught us that free markets, in the absence of strict ethics and moral code, will fail- that freedom contains the freedom to do evil. Only by adhering to a duty to do good, can we overcome this.

4 comments:

Eiko Onoda said...

>Political and Religious Freedom contains the Freedom to Do Good, but it also contains the Freedom to Do Evil.

Yes, but we mustn't do evil, because it restricts itself -the freedom to do evil. As long as we do good, we keep on having two freedoms -freedom to do good or evil. Therefore we need to do good.

>which claims we are saved NOT by faith alone, but by good works).

Paul once said a guy who doesn't work is worse than the guy who doesn't have faith. Spiritual civilisation stands on the firm material civilisation.

Ted Seeber said...

Yes, but we mustn't do evil, because it restricts itself -the freedom to do evil. As long as we do good, we keep on having two freedoms -freedom to do good or evil. Therefore we need to do good.

Not always true, look at the evil done during the credit crisis in the United States- the majority of those doing the evil have actually been *rewarded* for the behavior.

Eiko Onoda said...

Let's try to think about the matter from slightly different point of view.

Some ordinary people sometimes do evil out of the feeling he has a right to do evil, observing many others do the same thing.

For example, ignoring traffic signal, speed limit, or tax evasion, etc. People sometimes do evil as these. They have been rewarded from those acts.

In this case we notice law is not an absolute rule that regulates what is right or wrong. People are actually doing the right thing by violating the written code. It is not evil what people did in the credit crisis and rewarded from that. Because they thought it a right - entitlement to do something.

Really bad people do evil not from the feeling of entitlement, but an obligation. Very different.

Ted Seeber said...

The system gives an obligation in this case- the obligation to get your shareholders the maximum profit possible. They were rewarded largely by the shareholders (who vote on executive compensation packages at shareholder meetings) for encouraging the credit bubble.

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Oustside The Asylum by Ted Seeber is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at http://outsidetheaustisticasylum.blogspot.com.