Free example essay on Morality:
In the Reading, Born to be Good, written by Celia Kitzinger, she brings to light many varied views concerning moral behavior. For instance, the author discusses the reason why people are drawn to help others in need. Is their act of kindness, as it might seem, selfless and provided only with the ingrained desire to give aid to another? Or is it, as some psychologists have suggested, truly a deep rooted need to feel better about oneself through the act of giving or anticipation of receiving some form of personal gain resulting from our deed? The author goes on to discuss how we, as individuals, learn to act morally. It is mentioned that we first develop a sense of morality by experiencing obedience and punishments given by adults and later by pleasing and helping others as well as by evaluating how the rest of society expects us to behave. The authors’ restatement of one psychologists view is that learning to be moral is based on our ability to gain knowledge and has nothing to do with emotion or empathy.
Morality – Instinctual or Learned?
I believe that the idea of ethics is learned. From watching and discussing with our parents, friends, and family we learn what they believe is right or wrong. It is very unlikely; however, that any person will take on the exact same set of values they have been taught. Although a child may emulate the actions of his parents, as freethinking individuals, all with very different personalities and goals, we take what we have been taught and mold/change those ideas to resemble principles of our own. One might consider this near unconscious metamorphosis of changing one person’s sense of morality into our own to be instinctual, to some degree.
I am unsure what the author means when saying that we can develop morals from the experience of obedience and punishments. This statement is somewhat ambiguous. If this means that we can learn good values through realizing the consequences of our actions, then I do agree.
I believe that every individual is instinctively empathetic. Empathy for another could be loosely defined as ethical behavior; however the instinctive empathy of a child will later become the conscious empathy of an adult. When one becomes conscious of their feelings they then have the power to choose their reaction to those feelings.
There are, without a doubt, many pressures placed on us by society concerning what exactly is considered moral behavior. In addition to the many laws that are in place that dictate our everyday conduct regarding what is right or wrong, there are other groups of people that attempt to define proper morality. The largest of these I believe is the religious community. If one believes in the Christian God and gives fealty to the Bible or Ten Commandments, then they have pledged to live their life by the values set forth therein. It has long been the argument of some people in various religious sects that the values taught by Christian religion are the true values that should be accepted by humanity.
Selfish or Selfless?
Although I will admit to the idea that some individuals may be charitable solely for the desire of recognition or self-gain, I submit to you that this is typically not the only reason and generally not the norm. I believe that the majority comes to the aid of others truly without regard to themselves. They do so because they are benevolent to the plight of those in need. The ability to instinctively feel another’s pain and be compassionate comes somewhat naturally to most people, albeit indirectly through learning experiences.
Most of us learn to recognize and deal with pain early in life. If a child as young as two hurts himself, he immediately recognizes that it is not a good feeling and responds. He will likely cry and run to a parent for comfort. So he has both learned to realize his pain and how he can benefit from the consoling of others. Later in life he might apply this principle to do good for another.
Subjective vs. Objective
I believe that morality is defined very differently for everyone. The subjective view would suggest that some people create their own sense of values as they go along. The objective view is that morality is definite: meaning that for every situation there is an exact, unchangeable right or wrong. I suggest to you that there is not always a right or wrong for every circumstance. We must make our own choice, first evaluating our own ideals, then considering every nuance of a situation before we can determine the right or wrong action to take. There are even times when no action is the better action.
In summary I would say that I agree with most every opinion the author of this article has stated. I believe that our morality is defined in a variety of ways. We are born with some base instincts such as empathy and basic needs to give and receive affection; however, for the most part we learn to “be good” through the actions of others. It is up to us, as adults, to classify just what “good” is and respond to various situations based on our own ideals. I believe that no one person can completely (or should even try to) define the morality of another.
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