Powerpoint - John Provost

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Transcript Powerpoint - John Provost

Moral Development
Morality and Religion
Is something good because God says it is
good or does God say it is good because it
is good?
Boss: “According to a 2006 Pew Research
Center poll, 32 percent of Americans
believe that religion and the Bible should be
more important than the will of the people
in government and political decisions,
especially decisions concerning moral
issues such as abortion, war, homosexuality,
stem cell research, and the death penalty.”
Boss: “In addition, while 49 percent believe
that ‘conservative Christians have gone too
far in trying to impose their religious values
on the country,’ even more Americans - 69
percent - believe that ‘liberals have gone too
far in trying to keep religion out of the
schools and the government’.”
Two Theories
Boss: “Divine command theory claims that
morality is dependent on or relative to
God’s commands and, therefore, can change
from time to time and person to person.
Natural law theory, on the other hand,
maintains that morality is based on
universal, unchanging principles and that
God commands or approves something
because it is right prior to the command.”
Can God command you to do something
bad, in which case (because God
commanded it) it becomes good?
Divine Command Theory
Boss: “Just as morality for the cultural
relativist is relative to cultural norms and
commands, for the divine command
theorist, morality is relative to what God
commands or wills. There are no
independent, universal moral standards by
which to judge God’s commands. No other
justification is necessary for an action to be
right other than that God commanded it.”
If someone truly believes they are acting on
God’s behalf, then what can we do to
persuade them that they need to think again
about basic morality?
Boss: “The primary concern with divine
command theory is its apparent arbitrariness
since there are no objective criteria for us to
use to determine whether a particular claim
or action was actually based on God’s
How Can We Verify?
Boss: “There are no criteria for determining
whether God actually issued a particular
command. Because divine commands are issued to
particular individuals or groups rather than being
grounded in universal principles, we are left with
no rational or objective means of determining if a
person or group actually was commanded by God
or if they were mistaken or delusional.”
Relativistic Theories
Boss: “Relativistic theories do not allow for
rational discussion of what is the right thing
to do, thus contributing to a rigid ‘either
you’re with us or against us’ mentality. The
only way left to resolve differences
regarding what God commands is through
apathy or violence.”
Argument From Ignorance
Fallacy: If you can’t prove someone is
wrong so that then makes him or her even
more sure that they are right. Atheists will
sometimes say that the fact that you can’t
prove there is a God means that there is no
God. Religious people will argue just the
opposite way. But ignorance does not prove
anything except that we don’t know.
Natural Law Ethics
Boss: “Natural law ethicists disagree with
the divine command theories. Instead of an
action being right because God commands
it, natural law theorists maintain that God
commands an action because it is moral
beforehand and independently of God’s
commanding it at that moment.”
Natural Law Theory
Boss: “According to natural law theory,
morality is universal and grounded in
rational nature rather than being particular
and relative to God’s commands. Natural
law does not mean laws of physics, but laws
of rational human nature, which, unlike the
fixed laws of physical nature, are free and
The Divine Spark
Boss: “Reason constitutes the divine spark
within humans; it is our essence. Natural or
moral law is unchanging and eternal.
Natural law is universally knowable to
humans through reason. It is also
universally binding on all humans.”
General Guidelines
Boss: “The guidelines contained in natural
law are very general, unlike normative
moral rules that contain specific content and
guidelines for actions such as ‘do not steal.’
According to Thomas Aquinas, the basic
principle of natural law is ‘do good and
avoid evil’.”
Applying Natural Law
Boss: “The Golden Rule of Judeo-Christian
religion is another example of one of the
principles of natural law. Because the moral
guidelines contained in natural law are very
general, we need to use our reason in
deriving normative rules from natural law
and in applying natural law to real-life
Hardwired For Goodness?
We can learn a language when we are babies,
whether English, Chinese, or any other language,
because we are “hardwired,” so to speak, to learn
language. The specific language is simply the
software program that is used by our brain
(computer). In a similar way, natural law states
that we are hardwired to look for the good and to
do what is right. It may not be perfect, but it is
there as part of our basic working gear in human
Critique #1
Boss: “1. Not all people agree on what is morally
required. Because the basic principles of natural
law are so general, it is open to divergent
interpretations. This problem is further
compounded by the fact that humans are not
perfectly rational. Because we have imperfect
reason and are subject to error, different people
may interpret natural law and its application
differently. Consequently, reason alone is
insufficient to determine what is moral.”
Critique #2
Boss: “2. Natural law theory is based on a dualistic
worldview. Natural law assumes that humans are a
special creation who have incorporeal souls and,
hence, are free and autonomous. As such, humans
are qualitatively different from other purely
physical animals. However, not only is human
reason imperfect, reason is found throughout the
animal kingdom to various degrees. In addition,
reason can also be programmed into artificial
Critique #3
Boss: “3.
Because natural law theory is
teleological, the end or fundamental good
toward which it is aimed can sometimes
become more important than respect for
individual rights and dignity.”
Critique #4
Boss: “4. There is disagreement among
natural law theorists on the list of
fundamental goods. It is simply assumed
that we intuitively know what the
fundamental goods are. However, not
everyone agrees about what these
fundamental goods or goals are.”
Civil Religion
Boss: “French sociologist and philosopher
Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) argued, in
The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life,
that God stands in the same relationship to
worshippers as society does to its individual
members. God is the symbol of society, and
each society creates God in its own image.”
Sacralizing Cultural Norms
Boss: “By sacralizing cultural norms and
values, religion gives these cultural norms a
transcendent authority that they would
otherwise lack.”
A Warning
Religious people want to think religious values
and practices are good for a country, but Karl
Marx is one among many writers who want to
caution us about the problems of mixing church
and state. Many of the founders of the United
States were equally worried. Patriotism and
religion are powerful sources of motivation for
both good and bad things. History is clear about
Civil Religion in America
Boss: “Bellah suggests that the primary role
of civil religion is the creation of a sense of
cultural or national identity and purpose. He
defines civil religion as an institutionalized
set of beliefs, symbols, and rituals that
provide a religious dimension to a nation’s
collective life.”
One Nation Under God
Boss: “Today, the belief that the United
States was established as a special nation
under God exerts a powerful influence on
Americans’ beliefs regarding their role in
world affairs.”
A National Mission?
Bellah says it is not the traditional religion
of Christianity or Judaism that tells the U.S.
that we should spread democracy. If
anything the scriptures advocate for a
monarchy. So what happens when you
combine basic Christian principles with
democracy, capitalism, and patriotism? You
get American civil religion.
A Divine Plan?
Boss: “This new democratic social order is
identified with God’s divine plan for human
progression toward moral perfection.”
Notice how it mentions “Providence,” but
not Jesus or Allah or Krishna. This is not
advocating for a specific religion, but for
basic religious values that then are
combined with basic American values into a
new unity that can be called civil religion.
Boss: “American civil religion expresses itself in
symbols such as the American flag, the national
anthem, war memorials, national holidays (holy
days), and documents that outline our special
status and mission as a ‘chosen’ nation, such as the
U.S. Constitution. In addition, references to God
appear in the Pledge of Allegiance, on our money,
and in oaths for public office.”
When our country suffers problems such as
national disasters, people often look to the
moral life of our nation as an explanation.
Some ministers have been known to go on
national T.V. and explain certain disasters as
a response to specific sins.
Civil Religion: A Higher Law?
Boss: “In American democracy, although
sovereignty officially resides in the people,
it is implicitly understood that the ultimate
sovereignty rests with God and that our
country’s actions are judged by a higher
law. The president’s ultimate obligation is to
this higher law.”
Democracy and Civil Religion
Boss: “In this capacity, if the majority of
citizens or elected officials make a decision
that the president, as ‘head’ of American
civil religion, deems to be at odds with
God’s plan, then he can refuse to go along
with the majority. This happened when
Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation
Proclamation (1863).”
The Good Side
When Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his
famous “I Have A Dream” speech part of its
effectiveness was that he was appealing to
Americans to find this higher calling and
higher law. This is the good side of civil
The Bad Side
Boss: “By sacralizing cultural norms and
values, civil religion gives them a
transcendent authority that they would
otherwise lack. Rather than looking to
natural law to judge a nation, the nation
itself becomes the object of worship, and
any dissent or moral criticism is oppressed
in the name of patriotic duty.”
The Need for Ideals
Boss: “The moral ideals of the Declaration of
Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the
Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
have never been fully realized in this country.
While these documents may not be sacred and are
certainly not perfect, to their credit, the founders
of this country sought to discern natural laws and
incorporate them into our nation’s thinking.”
Moral Development
Boss: “Immanuel Kant once said that the basic
questions of philosophy - including the question
“What ought I to do?” - are all fundamentally
related to anthropology, or “What is man?” The
study of moral development takes place at this
juncture of philosophical theory and the social
sciences. Any adequate theory of morality must
take into consideration the relevant facts about
human nature and human behavior.”
Boss: “Self-knowledge can help us toward
this goal. By learning about the
psychological mechanisms that govern our
moral development, we can actually
advance our moral growth.” This is
important because it means that the striving
for self-knowledge actually helps us to
grow into morally mature persons.
Finding Happiness
People who do not mature morally
sometimes think that moral behavior simply
seems to require too much effort. But in the
long run, if happiness is your goal, it seems
that practicing goodness is an important
skill to learn.
Boss: “The English word conscience comes from
the Latin words com (‘with’) and scire (‘to
know’). Conscience, in other words, provides us
with knowledge about what is right and wrong.
However, it is more than just a passive source of
knowledge. Conscience involves reason and
critical thinking; it also involves feelings.
Conscience not only motivates us; it demands that
we act in accord with it.”
Definitions of Conscience 1
Boss: “Philosopher George Hegel defined ‘true
conscience [as] the disposition to will what is
absolutely good.’ Many religious people view the
conscience as divine guidance or the voice of God
speaking through our hearts. In Judaism,
worshipping and following one’s conscience are
inseparable: ‘When our conscience is not at one
with the actions of our body, then our worship of
our Creator is imperfect’.”
Definitions of Conscience 2
Ethiopian Book of the
Philosophers compares conscience to an
inner light in the soul that not only bears the
fruit of love for one another but also gives
us the ‘wisdom that distinguishes what
should be.’ The comparison of conscience
with light or energy is found in many other
Definitions of Conscience 3
Conscience is also described as a seed. It is
a seed that can grow into a source of
nourishment and beauty, but because it is
alive and needs care, it can also wither away
and die.
Sources of Conscience
Boss: “There are three main forces that
contribute to the shaping of our conscience:
(1) heredity or biological factors; (2)
learning or environmental factors, and (3)
conscious moral direction.”
Biological Factors
Boss: “There is strong evidence that the frontal
lobe cortex in the brain plays a key role in moral
decision making. Most of the work in this area has
been with sociopaths - people who apparently lack
a conscience or moral sense. A study of prisoners
found that, when sociopaths were compared to
nonsociopathic criminals, the former had specific
deficits associated with frontal lobe functioning.”
Community and Nurture
Boss: “Although natural moral dispositions are
apparently present at the time of birth in most
people, this is not enough to ensure the
development of moral character.
community and nurture, a moral capacity cannot
Our Brain and Chemistry
The growing understanding of our brain and
chemistry is making it ever more difficult to know
how to assess whether people are fully in control
of themselves or not.
Cultural Relativists
Cultural relativists tend to think our conscience is
totally formed by our surroundings, but this is now
in serious doubt. Studies have shown that even
very young children seem to have an inbuilt
system for gauging whether things are good and
bad. That is not to deny the also well-established
fact that our culture plays a huge role in
influencing how this inner sense of right or wrong
is understood and then applied in real life
Exercising the Conscience
Boss: “Although innate and external forces can
influence our conscience, the exercise of the
conscience demands active participation on our
part through the use of conscious and responsible
Aristotle and Confucius
Boss: “Aristotle emphasized the importance of
habituation - practicing virtuous behavior.
Confucian philosophy also teaches that, although
inborn moral sentiments are important, only
through conscious reflection can we achieve
perfect goodness.”
Humans and Free Will
Boss: “The ability to engage in conscious moral
direction - to be a morally mature person - entails
accepting responsibility for our actions rather than
simply reacting to our environment. One of the
basic assumptions of moral philosophy is that
humans have free will and can, at least to some
extent, overcome negative influences in our lives.”
The Possibility to Grow
A fairly safe position is to accept that much of our
life is in fact conditioned, but that within those
conditions, we not only have some freedom, but
we also have the possibility to grow in freedom as
we grow in consciousness.
More than Gut Feelings
Boss: “Because conscience is much more than gut
feelings or a list of instructions about how to
behave, to make use of it, we also need to develop
our powers of discernment and to cultivate our
moral sentiments.”
What is Morality?
Some people think that morality is simply a matter
of thought. We should be able to work out
rationally the right thing to do and then go from
Other people put the emphasis on
emotional development. These people say that it
does not matter how smart you are, if you don’t
have the capacity to be sympathetic, then you will
not be all that moral.
Emotions and Reasoning
Our affective or emotional side almost always
contains a cognitive aspect, and our reasoning is
almost always informed to some extent by our
Emotional Sentiments
Sometimes you cannot explain why something is
wrong. Perhaps you do not have the words or you
do not know enough about the issue, but
something in you just does not feel right. These
are our emotional sentiments. The most basic one
is probably sympathy.
Sympathy has been studied in very young children
who have not yet developed the capacity to reason
logically. This is part of the evidence that we are
born with something that we call a conscience and
also that our moral feelings anticipate our ability
to actually reason morally.
Boss: “Without sympathy, true intimacy and a
genuine sense of community would be impossible.
To many moral philosophers, sympathy is the
greatest virtue and the cultivation of sympathy and
compassion our primary moral duty. Compassion,
a more active form of sympathy, is the
combination of sympathy with praxis or social
Negative Emotions
We also experience negative emotions that are
linked to morality and ethics.
Moral Outrage
Boss: “In our ‘live and let live’ society, righteous
anger is frowned on and passing judgment on
others is considered disrespectful and even
arrogant. ‘Who are you to pass judgment?’ we are
atmosphere, it is not surprising that the moral
outrage that often accompanies moral judgment is
often regarded as a bad feeling that we should
work to get beyond.”
Live and Let Live
“Live and let live” does not mean we have to put
up with abuse and injustice. Gandhi in India and
Martin Luther King, Jr. in our country have shown
us that it is possible to take a stand in a loving
way, without being self-righteous or hating our
enemies. But again, this takes training and
Guilt and Shame
An easy way to remember the difference between
guilt and shame is that guilt comes from the inside
and shame comes from the outside. We do not
need to give in to shame, but we ignore guilty
feelings at our own peril.
True Guilt
True guilt leads us to take action. False guilt just
makes us feel rotten and does not lead to a better
Pain and Guilt
Boss: “Both pain and guilt act as damage control.
Physical pain occurs when we damage our bodies,
as a signal for us to take steps to fix the damage or
remove the cause of the harm. In the same
manner, guilt lets us know when something is
morally wrong so that we can take steps to correct
the situation.”
The Cognitive Side
Boss: “The cognitive side of our conscience is
involved in making rational judgments about what
we ought to do. If we neglect or fail to develop
the critical cognitive side of our conscience, our
moral sentiments can get us into trouble or even
lead us to commit immoral actions. Moral
sentiments by themselves are uncritical.”
Uncritical Sympathy
Boss: “People who are uncritically sympathetic
make easy targets for those who would take
advantage of their kindness. Other people feel
overwhelmed with guilt but are unable to discern
why or to devise a plan of action to remedy the
situation that gave rise to the guilt in the first
Boss: “Rationalization involves the use of
rhetoric, fallacies, and resistance, rather than
logical analysis. People who rationalize their
harmful actions suffer from what is known as
weakness of the will or a weak conscience. Weakwilled people place nonmoral values such as
popularity or economic success above moral
values and the demands of their conscience.”
Boss: “Acting in good conscience seems to be
necessary for maintaining our sense of personal
integrity. Our conscience compels us to question
cultural norms that require us to be insincere or to
pretend that we are someone we are not. To be at
odds with our conscience is to be out of harmony
with our very being.”
Jean Piaget (1896-1980)
Boss: “Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget was one of
the first to systematically study moral reasoning in
children. Children, he noticed, go through distinct
stages in their moral development. The first stage
he labeled the stage of heteronomy. This stage is
based on a ‘morality of constraint.’”
The Stage of Autonomy
Boss: “The second stage, the stage of autonomy, is
based on a ‘morality of cooperation.’ Although
Piaget regarded moral development as part of
nature, he also believed that
interrelationships between the individual and
society are essential to nurture the development of
a sense of moral duty.”
Lawrence Kohlberg
Boss: “Harvard psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg
believed that humans, with the exception of
sociopaths and other severely impaired people,
have an inherent potential for growth from the
lower (earlier) to higher stages of moral
development. These stages are transcultural and
represent ‘transformations in the organization of
thought, rather than increasing knowledge of
cultural values.”
Stages of Moral Development
Boss: “Each stage, according to Kohlberg, is
distinct and reflects a level of moral judgment that
is more complex than that of the preceding stage.
Gains that are made in moral judgment tend to be
retained. The lower stages are not so much
replaced by higher stages as incorporated into
them - much like elementary school arithmetic
becomes part of our way of understanding
Preconventional Stages
Boss: “Kohlberg identified three levels of moral
development, each with two distinct stages. In the
preconventional stages, moral duty and moral
community are defined primarily in egocentric
terms of oneself.
Young children are
preconventional reasoners.”
Conventional Stages
Boss: “The majority of adults in the United States
are in the conventional stages of moral reasoning.
They are heteronomous moral reasoners who look
to outside sources - their peers or cultural norms for moral guidance. Less than 10 percent of
American adults ever reach the postconventional
stages of autonomous moral reasoning.”
Higher Stages
Boss: “Higher stages are preferable because
people at these stages are more satisfied with their
moral decisions. People, in general, prefer a
solution to a moral problem that uses the highest
stage of moral reasoning conceptually available to
them. People who operate at a higher stage of
moral reasoning are less likely to make moral
decisions that they will later regret.”
Greater Inner Harmony
It simply feels better to include more in our moral
community rather than less. It is also more
logical. As a result of bringing emotions and mind
together at a higher level, there is more inner
Hallmarks of
Sound Moral Reasoning
Boss: “Most of the world’s moral philosophers
have long held that autonomous moral reasoning,
universality and impartiality, compassion and a
concern for justice, and mutual respect are the
hallmarks of sound moral reasoning.”
Universal Stages of
Moral Development
Boss: “Studies from more than forty Western and
non-Western countries support Kohlberg’s theory
that stages of moral development are universal.”
Deep Structure and
Surface Structure
If people seem so different, how can these moral
stages be similar? Understanding this comes from
making a distinction between deep structure and
surface structure.
Carol Gilligan
Boss: “Carol Gilligan, who had studied with
Kohlberg, decided it was time to study women. In
her interviews with women and through her study
of women in literature, she concluded that
women’s moral development tends to follow a
different path than men’s. Men tend to be duty
and principle oriented, women are more context
oriented and tend to view the world in a more
emotional and personal way.”
Women’s Moral Judgment
Boss: “Women’s moral judgment, Gilligan found,
is characterized by a concern for themselves and
others, accepting and maintaining responsibility
within relationships, attachment, and selfsacrifice. She named this the ‘care perspective,’ in
contrast to Kohlberg’s ‘justice perspective.’”
Boys and Girls at Play
If boys and girls are playing a game and someone
loses and starts to cry, the boys will often ignore
the crying and move on. After all, the rules are the
rules and they must be adhered to! The girls will
often want to give the person who lost another
chance. It is not that they don’t care about the
rules; it is just that they care more about
preserving the relationship.
The Postconventional Stage
Boss: “In both Kohlberg’s and Gilligan’s theories,
the postconventional stage is represented by
autonomous moral reasoning. The person looks to
transcultural values - whether in the form of
principles of justice and respect or moral
sentiments such as compassion and empathy.”
Moral Maturity
One of the positive changes that seems to be
slowly but surely happening is that patriarchy is
dying, and men and women are coming together in
new kinds of relationships that bring new levels of
moral maturity to both groups.
Moral Stances
Our moral stances may have less to do with our
gender and more to do with how our sexuality is
shaped. In cultures that separate the sexes strictly,
there will be more differences. In cultures like our
own, these differences may become less oriented
toward gender differences, and simply represent
different personality types that can be found in
both men and women.
Moral Judgments
Boss: “Proficiency in making moral judgments
clearly does not in itself guarantee that one will act
morally. For example, we may fail to act morally
because of fear or pressure from peers or authority
figures even when we know what is right, a
complex phenomenon that cannot be represented
as a single variable.”
Four Components
Boss: “Psychologist James Rest identified four
components of moral behavior:
(1) Moral sensitivity
(2) Moral reasoning or judgment
(3) Moral motivation
(4) Moral character”
Moral Sensitivity
Boss: “Moral sensitivity is the awareness of how
our actions affect others. It involves that ability to
empathize and imagine ourselves in another
person’s shoes. Problems such as poverty, social
isolation, and homelessness exist, in part, because
we simply don’t see the problem.”
Cultivating Moral Sensitivity
Boss: “Only when we are painfully sensitive to
actual suffering can we begin to move toward
changing the social conditions that perpetuate
injustice and suffering. Indeed, one of the
strengths of feminist care ethics is its recognition
of the importance of cultivating moral sensitivity.”
Moral Judgment
Boss: “Moral judgment that is not tempered with
moral sensitivity can lead to behavior that is rigid
and unfeeling. Justice untempered with feelings
of mercy can lead to taking revenge on the
offending party.”
Developing Moral Reasoning
Boss: “Real-life exposure to ideas that do not fit in
with our earlier, more simplistic ideas seems to be
a condition for the development of moral
Critical Thought
Critical thought is not enough to change morally,
but it is a big step in the process.
Moral Motivation
Boss: “Political philosopher Edmund Burke once
wrote that the only thing necessary for evil to
triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
Competing Values
Boss: “Moral motivation entails putting moral
values above competing nonmoral values.
Nationalistic and economic values as well as
concerns about our popularity and conformity can
all take precedence over what we clearly recognize
to be the morally right action.”
Moral Character
Boss: “The last component of moral behavior is
moral character. Moral character is related to
integrity. A person of high moral character has
managed to integrate the other three components
of moral behavior into his or her personality.
Moral character predisposes us to act morally. It
includes personality traits such as ego strength,
perseverance, and strength of convictions.”
Beliefs and Behavior
Boss: “Our moral development, how we interact
with others, and our self-actualization are all
intimately connected. The higher our level of
moral development, the more consistent our
behavior will be with our beliefs and our
Morally Good People
Boss: “Morally good people not only sympathize
with those who are suffering but, when feasible,
take active steps to alleviate that suffering, and to
restore justice and a sense of community. They
are willing to speak out on behalf of themselves
and others when they witness an injustice and will
take effective and well-though-out action to
correct that injustice.”
Moral Maturity
Boss: “Moral maturity involves overcoming
resistance and rigidity in one’s thinking and one’s
perception of the world. The ability to be flexible
in our thinking involves both the recognition that
there is more than one way to approach a given
problem and the ability to effectively integrate the
various components of moral development.”
Wake Up!!
All of the wisdom traditions agree that we cannot
experience true peace and joy until we awaken
from our ordinary state into the enlightened state.