Insight: MORALITY, RELIGION, the LAW, & POLITICS
While the words may look and even sound alike, there are significant differences in meaning between moral, morals and morality (and we can throw in mores for good measure). Morals and mores are both nouns with their roots planted firmly in society, described in cultural terms. Moral, the singular noun, is an ambiguous term that can mean anything from lesson to platitude to principle. But morality (and its adjective moral) is a concept founded in ethics.
So if ethics defines right being (which is exactly what it does), then morality and its adjective define right doing. And if ethics is unchangeable (and it is), so too is morality. It has to be, otherwise there could be no real standard. And there is a real standard, the red herring of “moral relativity” notwithstanding. And that’s what we mean by EXTREME ETHICS.
There are no man-made standards for ethics or moral conduct. They simply are. Like it or not, they are pretty much perfect, and therein lies a problem because we are not.
EXTREME ETHICS requires dealing with perfection. We can’t address ethics by ignoring or redefining it or changing it according to our whims (which leads to moral relativity, moral ambiguity, moral “equivalency” and ultimately moral failure). We are stuck with the fact that ethics is ethics, and going partway is not enough.
Hasn’t religion historically been the bastion of ethics and morality? Isn’t religious philosophy the source of ethics? Not really. Religions and churches are institutions—groups—formed to get things done using their own rules.
While it’s true that the bases of many religions are ethical and champion morality, religions have their own agendas. Ethics, being a personal attribute consistent throughout humankind, existed before religions. No group, religious or otherwise, can make that statement. Religion has no lock on ethics.
ABOUT THE LAW:
Devised by society (a group) for the purposes of regulating behavior in and of itself (the group), Positive Law, the system of posited laws (civil and criminal) by which our society is governed, serves the purposes of society and may be modified as society wishes. Ethics can’t be modified.
The point of Positive Law is due process. This means only that it must follow the rule of law, which may be anything that society sets. Is the law ethical? Well, consider the concept of equality. Where is equality in a courtroom where the prosecution must tell the truth, but neither the accused nor his attorney are so bound? No, the law is not the keeper of ethics.
Ah, yes…politics. For some reason, our dictionary defines playing politics along with definitions of politics itself: to engage in political intrigue, to take advantage of a political situation or issue…to exploit a political system or political relationship; to deal with people in an opportunistic, manipulative or devious way. Ethical considerations are not merely implied in, but are an integral part of, any serious discussion of politics.
While it is possible to honestly take advantage of a political situation/issue to exploit the political system or relationship, the danger of dealing with people in an opportunistic, manipulative or devious way is ever present, and practiced.
Politics is itself one of the very special interests that it deals with. Politicians craft and pass laws that benefit only themselves specifically and directly; this is done entirely within the political system itself. The possibility for taking ethical liberties is thereby built into the political base.
This is obviously too complex a subject to cover here. You may wish to contact us. It’s free, after all….