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Why be Moral?
In our culture, many people are asking the same questions. What makes me better than you? Who says I have to treat you that way? Why does America think it is better than any other country? All of these questions arise from the same question: what are morals? This question leads to another relevant question: why be moral? What, if anything, makes man a moral creature and thus makes him responsible? However, is there any way we can really know that there are certain inherent laws which govern man, and behind these laws is there a Lawgiver that holds men accountable to these laws?
I believe that all these questions can be answered through careful observation and logical thinking. Let us first look at the one thing we know for sure and that is man. We can know this for sure because we are men so we would know how we act. When we associate with others, we do so with some rules of fairness in mind. We treat others in a certain way and expect them to treat us in the same way or we say it is "unfair" or "selfish." We just expect the other person to know that such an act is wrong and that they must play by the same rules that we are. Why do we expect this though? They did not grow up the same way you did. They were not raised by the same parents or even in the same household. So why should one expect them to know the same rules of fairness that you know. If the only basis for your assumption that they should know the rules is because you think the rules are right, then you have no reason to expect them to act that way. However, the other person does indeed know these rules. If they did not, when challenged as to why they did not follow the "rules," people would not immediately make excuses of why what they did was not going against these rules. If someone hits another person, their response is not "it is not wrong to hit someone," it is something like "if you knew how much they were bugging me, you would know why I hit them." People are so concerned about breaking these rules they are constantly making excuses. Why would they be so concerned if there was no inherent law given to men when they are created?
We can also look at cultures throughout history for evidence of this law. If one looks at history, they would be able to see that there are certain good and vices common to all civilizations throughout history. There are always small differences in the morals of civilizations, but there are certain one's that are common to all. For example, it has never been thought that cowardice was a virtue or that honesty was bad. Besides this fact, the differences in morals between these civilizations are also scrutinized by outsiders. One can not make a distinction that one culture's morals are any better than another's unless they are admitting there is a real Right that one cultures morals are closer to than the others. There must be this real Right and real Wrong standard in order for any two to be judged by. Where does this moral standard come from? It was not made up by men, so why are men so compelled to follow it?
Men are under the influence of a variety of laws all the time. Almost all the laws are scientific laws which men cannot break even if they tried their hardest. The moral law however, is the only law in which man is free to break. There is nothing that strictly makes a man do the right thing, only an influence telling the man to do the right thing.
There is another thing that needs to be mentioned here. Urges that men get are not the law in themselves. As C.S. Lewis's example goes, if a man falls through the ice, a person will have two urges. One urge is to help the person, and the other urge is an urge for you to remain safe. These two urges cannot be the law because not only are they
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Social philosophy, Ethics, Jurisprudence, Will, Lawgiver, Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, Kantian ethics
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