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Definitive or not?

  1. Jul 11, 2005 #1
    Definitive.... or not?

    Do questions like “Why should I be moral?” or “Why shouldn’t I be selfish?” have definitive answers like some questions in Physics, Math, Chemistry, or other subjects? Does having a definitive answer make a question more or less important?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 11, 2005 #2
    These are subjective questions, for which no definite answer exists. The same applies to your last (normative) question.
  4. Jul 11, 2005 #3
    Actually there is a definitive answer and I've just composed it on the spot!

    It is logical that if we all think and do what is best for all sentient life, now and in the future, we can generate the maximum amount of "pleasure" possible.

    There is no point in leading a life of hedonism as this would make you a slave to yourself and your existence as a sentient form of life with free will, would end.

    It's a shame isn't it. I'm a philosophical genius and all I'm doing is posting on some forum on the internet.
  5. Jul 11, 2005 #4
    Well the definite answer seems to be very obvious, you should be moral and not selfish if you live and depend on another to live your life. The problem might seem to be the definitions though. (This i think is the same point the truth made)
  6. Jul 12, 2005 #5
    "Why should I be moral?" Assuming that you live in a society, you have made a contract with that society to obey its morals, ethics and laws. In return you get the benefits of living in that society, protection, trade, income etc.
    An immoral person would break or not live up to his end of the contract and thus be getting something for nothing and be subject to punishment and/or expulsion. It is in our own self interest to be moral.

    We all are and should be selfish to the point of serving our self interests and survivability. Being greedy or piggish however is different, again getting something for nothing or more than what you pay for.
  7. Jul 14, 2005 #6
    the question is not should i be moral. it is WHY should i be moral? does WHY? have a definitive answer? will everyone have the same answer for this question?
    is it at all like a science law which we assume to be DEFINITIVE?
    AND DOES THIS BEING DEFINITIVE make it any more or less important than any other qustion?
  8. Jul 14, 2005 #7
    I doubt that everyone will have the same answer; but, to answer your question, "WHY should I be moral?" the answer is to serve your own best interests with in the society or culture in which you live. The answer always comes down to that one consideration and your own best interests, once prioritized, rarely include instant gratification. First of course is survival, next is quality of life such as health and well being, last is happiness and self fulfillment and all of this with other people, your family, your society etc.

    There is no absolute, definitive answer of why or what. It is all economics and politics. What is wisest, best for me, my life, my family, my society. As no man is an island living totally unto himself all of those separate interests usually come up with the same set of rules of behavior which we call morals, ethics and laws.
  9. Aug 4, 2005 #8
    Yes, they have answers. But before you can specify them, you have
    to state your goals as Royce alludes.

    If your goal is to participate in an orderly and just society then amorality
    and excessive self-interest work counter to those goals.

    If you goal is to coast through life on the effort of others like some sort
    of sociological parasite, then you will find a different set of answers.

    As to the why, it is simple. The choices you specified have real objective
    consequences to you and the people around you.

    So the final answer is "because if you are immoral or selfish you will be a
    burden to the rest of us and will acquire the existential features of a leech."
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2005
  10. Aug 8, 2005 #9
    Isn't the very fact that you have goals a type of morality? The question of whether or not to be "moral" is fundemental and comes before you make the goals.
  11. Aug 18, 2005 #10

    Why be moral? if you can pose this question then pose another, why not be moral? If you haven't an answer for either ask...'why breath if it means i still have to think so hard?' LOL!!!
  12. Aug 18, 2005 #11
    good sentiment Royce, couldnt have said it better

    Perhaps this person needs some direction, questions like, why be moral? are almost fundamentally self-handicapping.

    Morality has a lot to do, from a personal approach, with conscience, if you have one then you don't ask why, but you ask, how, where and when!!!!

    Read the bible dude, its not perfect and god only knows its been adapted and rewritten out of reality but there are some basics everyone can associate with regardless of faith, belief or religion.


  13. Aug 18, 2005 #12
    Actually, no. Acting morally is a choice and the goal is more fundamental
    to answering the question of why you would choose to be moral.

    I don't mean just any goal, I mean that the choice to be moral or not is made
    so that a particular goal is accomplished.

    It does not answer the question to say that morality is fundamental and
    you should choose it.
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