Saturday, June 02, 2007

Why be Moral?

Most people like it when other people are moral, but do we have good reasons for being moral ourselves. an ancient Greek philosopher once said that we work best to our own advantage when we act as though we regarded morality in high esteem when people are watching, but when people are not watching, we should follow nature rather than the code of society. Is he right? And if he is, do we nonetheless have a good reason to be a moral person, as opposed to just appearing to be moral.

1 comment:

Sturgeon's Lawyer said...

I'm quite surprised nobody's responded to this.

Why be moral?

1) Because I wish to think well of myself. This is hard enough when I try to act according to my best understanding of "morality;" it is quite impossible when I don't.

1a) There is always one witness to my behavior: me.

2) Because God (or Big Brother or Santa Claus) is watching. That sounds flip, but I don't mean it so; the idea that there is a universal Witness means something to a lot of people.

3) Because, according to the logic of the extended Prisoner's Dilemma, it is to my own best interest to be trustworthy. This implies acting in a way that corresponds to my words, including any moral precepts I propose as reasons for others to behave as I would prefer.

4) Because of the flounder.