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What Makes Us Moral Essay

  • Submitted by: naayema
  • on April 1, 2014
  • Category: English
  • Length: 15,381 words

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Below is an essay on "What Makes Us Moral" from Anti Essays, your source for research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

By Charles Larmore

I. Our Humanity Morality is what makes us human. One meaning of this common saying is plain enough. Refraining from injury to others, keeping our word, and helping those in need constitute the elementary decencies of society. If most of us did not observe these practices most of the time, or at least give one another the impression of doing so, no one would have the security to pursue a flourishing life. Even a life of basic dignity would be impossible if we found ourselves continually at the mercy of aggression, treachery, and indifference. Morality makes us human by providing rules of mutual respect without which there can be neither social cooperation nor individual achievement. However, another meaning suggests itself as well. It has to do not with morality’s function, but with its source. Other animals are like us in being able to show deference and feel affection, even to the point of sacrificing themselves for those whom they love. But morality, insofar as it involves looking beyond our own concerns and allegiances in order to respect others in and of themselves, lies beyond their ken. Does not then our very ability to think morally point to a peculiarly human power of selftranscendence, a power that we alone among the animals have of regarding ourselves from the outside as but one among others, and that finds in morality, if not its only, then certainly its most striking expression? This question engages our attention far less than it should. When people, philosophers included, wonder about the nature of morality, they tend to focus on what reasons there may be to be moral, what acting morally entails, or in what sense, if any, moral judgments count as true or false. All of these are important issues. But often the taken-for-granted deserves the greatest scrutiny. That we should be able at all to view the world impersonally, recognizing the independent and equal standing of others, involves an overcoming of...

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