We believe that morality is a central aspect of human
We believe that morality is vitally important - that you
cannot be a fully functioning human being without a sense of
what is right and what is wrong.
Morality is innate - it is inbuilt in us from the start. Just
as you do not have to teach any child to be naughty or to lie,
so you do not have to teach children that there is a difference
between right and wrong. They know very quickly when something
is 'unfair', for example.
Morality is also vital for civilization - in fact, for any
attempt by human beings to live or work together.
Choose your response:
When we talk about morality, we mean that actions and
intentions can be tested against a moral standard, and
judged to be right or wrong.
This does not mean that everything is clear-cut, morally
either black or white. Shades of gray exist in morality,
just as in 'real' life. Sometimes, it is hard to say what
the right course of action is. Sometimes, the choices we
face seems to be between one evil or another - as in the
classic choice: should I betray my country, or my friend?
We talk about 'weighing up' the alternatives. It is a
good analogy. In the physical world, without a pair of
scales, I may find it hard to decide which of two bags of
apples is the heavier. But whatever difficulty I have with
that choice, the feature I am making my choice about - the
weight of the two bags - really does exist.
Similarly, the fact that I am sometimes faced with
difficult choices does not prove there is no such thing as
morality. I only struggle because right and wrong do exist,
even if I have difficulty judging some situations.
The only objections I have come across are described
below in the 'Alternatives'
If morality is not central, I can think of only two
This is another of these academic alternatives. Every now
and then someone may claim this is the case. More rarely,
you will hear someone trying to argue it. Never, have I
found anyone trying to live it.
Of course, this does sometimes happen. When
someone lives without moral
standards, society decides that they are mentally ill and
locks them up. You cannot live alongside other people
without an understanding of right and wrong, and a
willingness to live accordingly.
This is much more familiar. As a pragmatic position, it
probably describes where most people are: I try to be good,
but I don't try too hard. I try to be ethical, as long as it
doesn't cost me too much.
But this does not work as a position - not when you start
to think about it. Moral standards either exist, or they do
not. If they really exist, then they must be important. To
claim that they are unimportant is to say that,
functionally, they do not exist.
We may not live up to our moral standards, but we
recognize that this failure matters in some way. If morality
does not matter, then this position is no different from the