What are the Basic Concepts of Moral Philosophy?June 28, 2021
Moral philosophy is a branch of philosophical inquiry that tries to explain and evaluate morality in all areas where morality can be mentioned. The basic concepts of moral philosophy, as in other disciplines of philosophy, are indispensable contents for understanding this discipline.
The basic concepts of moral philosophy are also the main topic of the introduction to moral philosophy of the philosophy course taught in high schools.
Moral philosophy is based on some concepts while dealing with human actions. These concepts are also concepts that directly characterize human actions. For example, good, evil, freedom, will (will), responsibility, conscience, duty, moral law, moral decision, and moral action. In addition, universal and personal concepts are also important for moral philosophy discussions. The general refers to the universal, and the personal to the individual.
FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY
Good: Behaviors that are morally valuable to an individual.
Bad: These are behaviors that an individual should not do.
Good and bad
What determines actions as morally “good” or “bad”? In other words, what are the criteria that determine good and bad? This is often reduced to social norms, and socially approved actions are considered good, while disapproved-legitimate ones are considered bad.
Good and evil are a pair of fundamental concepts of moral philosophy.
Philosophy does not limit moral action to social norms; looks at good and evil on a more principled and universal level. Moral action is primarily a question of will and choice. Behaviors that are not related to will, not based on choice, for example, those who do not have mental adequacy cannot be qualified as moral. The purpose (intention, intention) of an action can be evaluated through its process and results. Some thinkers prioritize intention. According to them, good and bad depend on the thought and intention that reveals the behavior.
Even if the behavior of a person with good intentions causes evil, it cannot be considered as bad. Thinkers who say that the result is important say that the result of the behavior should be looked at in determining the good and bad, not the intention. If the result of the behavior is bad, the behavior is also considered bad. More holistically, the purpose, process and result lead to well-being; It has the principle of not harming others or nature. In addition to intention, there are various criteria such as pleasure, utility, happiness, fulfillment of duty, righteousness, love, and compliance with God’s rules in grounding moral action.
Freedom: It is the ability of a person to do what he wants and make decisions of his own free will. Freedom is the ability to choose good or evil. For an action to be moral, it must be done freely.
Responsibility: It is the ability of a person to bear the consequences of his/her own free will, knowingly and willingly, and to undertake the consequences.
Freedom and Responsibility
“How free is man in his actions and behaviors?” This question is one of the fundamental problems of moral philosophy. This question is addressed in the context of the relationship between freedom and responsibility. Morality; It is a field related to the conscious actions, will and choices of individuals and cannot be considered apart from freedom.
Freedom also brings responsibility.
The definition of freedom is very diverse, but there is no agreed definition. However, in the moral sense, it is the individual’s free will to decide and act independently of any external influence. Responsibility; It is to accept and undertake the purpose of one’s action, its effects in the process and all kinds of results. Responsibility coexists with free will. There is no responsibility in the absence of freedom.
However, thinkers have put forward different ideas about the relationship between freedom and responsibility. According to determinism, every event in the universe has a cause. People’s moral choices depend on previous events and mental and physical factors.
Therefore, he says that free will and the responsibility it brings cannot be fully possessed. There is no arbitrariness in one’s action because one is not free. Fatalism, which is a type of determinism, argues that everything that happens in people’s destiny will happen to them, whether they choose it or not. Since the future of the person is determined, there can be no talk of free will. When this understanding of fatalism is accepted, human moral thinking, choices and actions become completely meaningless. Therefore, they cannot be held responsible for their actions.
Indeterminism, which is the opposite of determinism and fatalism, asserts that a person is free while making moral decisions and acting, that his moral choices are not determined by previous physical and spiritual events, and that man has an absolute freedom of choice thanks to his mind.
According to autodeterminism, which is described as moral autonomy, there are some effects that determine and direct human behavior, but this does not mean that he does not have freedom. This view is based on one’s moral decisions.