Why Should I Be Moral? Essay, Research Paper
Why Should I Be Moral?
The question of morality proves to be a complex interrogatory. Should I
be moral? If I should be, then why? Why is morality important to society? An
assumption can be made that morals derive from a purely religious perspective or
the Golden Rule approach. We are told that it is right to be moral. This is an
ineffective answer, since it does not apply to someone outside the moral circle
This in mind, there is really no way to prove this too a person who
wants to know why he/she should be moral. According to Olen, the only answer to
them would be “because you are”. Happiness could also be included in the list
of moral reasons. I personally feel that this is the best supported reason for
being moral. Although there will be times when the moral decision will not be
pleasurable, it will eventually lead to happiness. Morality is important for
society as a whole, as it makes life livable. Now expanding on the happiness
theory, I will discuss the ideas of Aristotle. Aristotle believed that
happiness is the quality of whole human life. We all have misconceptions about
happiness. Most of us believe that happiness is experiencing a lively feeling
of joy or pleasant feelings. We can be happy at one moment, but not the next.
Aristotle on the other hand said that true happiness includes pleasures, joys,
and successes as well as many pains, griefs, and troubles in ones life. A happy
life is not cause by the pleasures we’ve had, nor marred by the displeasures
Aristotle also contended that children could not be happy as the
requirement for happiness was a complete life. For instance, an old man looking
back on his life and being able to say that it was good, is happiness.
Aristotle defined the things that make happiness as health, wealth,
friendship, and good moral character. Aristotle stated that happiness was also
the highest good leaving nothing more to be desired. Life is made perfect by
possession of all good things. We seek happiness for its own sake. All others
are sought for happiness. Aristotle believed to become happy one must have good
character and be willing to suffer to obtain the greater good later on. We
should seek the good in the long run. Most men/women will not do this. We take
the immediate pleasure. Most people think that happiness is unique to each
person. Aristotle believed that there is only one true conception and that it
holds the same for all humans. Power is not an attribute to happiness because
it would preclude some people from being happy if they are ruled. Aristotle
believed as our for fathers that everyone has an ultimate right to the pursuit
He believed that this pursuit must be cooperative, not competitive. All
this said, it is clear that it fits into his belief that everything in nature
has a goal towards which it naturally strives (i.e. happiness). A morally
virtuous person is one who is moderate in his actions. He chooses the mean as
opposed to the extremes. Aristotle was more concerned with the real world than
with the theological world. His bottom line view point was that we have no
answer to the question “Why do you want to be happy?” other than “to be happy.”
He believed that we must be moral in order to obtain our life long goal of
I find myself in agreement with Aristotle to some degree. When I as
myself “why do you want to be happy?” I am stuck. I just want to be happy. I
can see where society as a whole must practice morality as a whole to allow
everyone the non-competitive pursuit of happiness. I can also relate to the
fact that following the immediate pleasure doesn’t unnecessarily attribute to
the future good. I have not been able to live one city longer than a year at a
time. As a result of this, I am unable to purchase my dream home because the
I am however happier when I first move to a new state. I am not totally
convinced that the pursuit of happiness alone is just cause for morality. I do
believe that morality has much to do with a theological basis. I believe that
there is an obligation instilled in each of us by the current religious belief
of out society. I believe we make decision based on the consequences we could
face in our afterlife. I believe we discern right and wrong on the basis of
what is right or wrong to our doctrine.
True moral issues, but for the most part don’t we judge thing based on
what was instilled into us as children? We were socialized to fit a pattern and
our society even today is still tinged with religious attitudes and beliefs.
According to Kohlberg’s stages of moral development, children give the right
answer to moral issues, but with different reasons as they progress.
STAGE BRIEF DESCRIPTION REASONS FOR DOING RIGHT
LEVEL I: 1
Preconventional Desire to Avoid punishment
Avoidance of punishment and the superior power of authority; obedience for its
Desire to obtain rewards
Serves one’s own needs and recognizes that other people have their interests to;
conforms to obtain rewards
Conventional “Good Boy/Good Girl”
Values the approval of others and tries to maintain mutual relationships
involving trust, loyalty, respect, and gratitude; believes in the Golden Rule.
Respect for Authority
Values society’s laws and tries to uphold them; tires to keep the institution
Respect for the social contract
Believes in upholding the social contract because it provides the “greatest good
for the greatest number’; recognizes that a social contract is an agreement
between people that benefits the public welfare.
Universal ethical principles
Personally committed to a set of self-chosen ethical principles, mot of which
may be compatible with the laws of society. When laws conflict with ethical
principles, the person acts in accordance with his/her principles.
SOURCE: Based on L. Kohlberg “Stage and Sequence: The Cognitive-Developmetal
Approach to Socializtion” in Handbood of Sociliztion Thoery and Research, 1969,
edited by D.A. Goslin, Rand Mcnally, Chicago; and L. Kohlberg, “Moral Stages and
Moralization’ in T. Lickons Ied.), Moral Development and Behavior. New Yord:
Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1976.
Now as I take this table into consideration I see that children are
consistently react in to the consequences given to them by parents, schools, and
so forth. These ideas are ingrained into us from birth, therefor they become a
part of us. Not only do they become a part of us, but the real reason that they
are important gets lost and becomes a “just because” reason. Maybe this is why
it is so difficult to explain why a person should be moral. Having said all of
this, I believe that Aristotle’s ideas were for the most part correct. His
philosophy o morality being linked to the achievement of happiness does fit into
my thoughts on societal molding. In our society, or any for that matter, there
seems to be a blueprint from which we set our goals and structure our lives.
Being healthy, wealthy, and respected are a big part of that blueprint we in our
sect call the American Dream. Inherent to being respected is being known for
doing the right thing and making the right decisions, and keeping promises. We
do all want to be happy but I say society has created those items which we
consider important our out happiness. Would wealth be important if there was no
money with which to contend? I think not, therefor I don’t think morals would be
an important ingredient to happiness if religion had not affected society.
Through the ages the beliefs of the moral issues of the time. Therefor, I think
the ideas we accrue throughout our life times concerning what is right our wrong
are then past to our children just the same. Why should I be moral? I strongly
believe it is because society says so.
Olen, Jeffrey., Persons and Their World. McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1983
Wallace, Patricia M., Goldstein, Heffrey H., Nathan, Peter E.,
Introduction to Psychology. Brown Publishers, 1990.