Five Reasons Why Morality is Distracting and Harmful

[My comment: That’s why Dharma is a better concept than morality since it takes into account the context in which one is acting]

By ‘morality’, I refer to the sort of rules the transgression of which common sense decries as ‘immoral’, ‘wrong’ or ‘evil’. Such rules are generally regarded as obliging us without qualification. They prescribe duties not in virtue of your goals or role – such as ‘the duties of the secretary includes taking minutes of the meeting’ – but without qualification. They are claimed to ‘bind’ us merely in virtue of our status as human beings. And philosophers have constructed a vast industry devoted to the elaboration of subtle theories designed to justify them. Against morality thus conceived, I have five complaints.

First, most systems of morality are inherently totalising. Adhering to them consistently is impossible, and so each system is forced into incoherence by setting arbitrary limits to its own scope. Second, our preoccupation with morality distorts the force of our reasons to act, by effecting among them a triage that results in some reasons being counted twice over. Third, the intellectual acrobatics invoked to justify this double counting commit us to insoluble and therefore idle theoretical debates. Fourth, the psychological power of moral authority can promote deplorable systems of evaluation as easily as good ones. And fifth, the emotions cultivated by a preoccupation with morality encourage self-righteousness and masochistic guilt.

When making choices, I suggest, we should consider our reasons without asking what is ‘morally right’. This might seem preposterous. Let me explain.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s