What makes a moral system work?

What makes a moral system work?

There are 3 major elements to the basic structure:

1. A way to figure out what to do and not to do. Usually, this includes ideas or rules for long-term over short-term thinking, or ways to regulate social conduct so as to make social life better, or ways to cultivate an appreciation of or connection to aspects of the universe suggestive of divinity.

2. Rewards or punishments for following 1.

3. A mechanism to enforce 2.

Christianity, for example, tends to implement these 3 elements as follows:

1. The 10 Commandments, and more generally the Bible and exegesis, and one’s conscience.

2. Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, and statistical natural consequences in this life of following or not following 1.

3. God’s omniscience and ability to send one to Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory, and statistical natural consequences of following or not following 1.

2. and 3. are important for a moral system to have practical psychological import. Without them, a person asks “Why act according to these guidelines or rules?” and there is no reply. They end up not following the rules.

3 thoughts on “What makes a moral system work?

  1. Pingback: McGinn’s Moral System | Anthony Burgoyne

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