Moral Actions

Powerful Essays
Moral Actions

Honesty and deceit. Compassion and Neglect. Benevolence and malevolence. All these represent the extremes in the spectrum of morality. From the general societal viewpoint, the former represents the attitudes which should be admired, rewarded and emulated, while the latter represents the attitudes which should be abhorred, punished and discouraged. Now philosophers, not being satisfied with leaving things well enough alone, endeavour to discover why this is so. Why do we admire acts of kindness? Why do we loathe acts of malice? It is generally thought that the crux of this question of morality has to do with the magnitude of selfishness accounted for in the acts and thoughts of individuals. If we can think of selfishness as an empirical property, honesty, compassion, and benevolence are acts and attitudes that involve much less selfishness than their moral opposites. This realization, of course, does not answer the question we are considering, it merely pushes it back one metaphysical level. So the revised question should be this: When is selfishness morally acceptable, and when is it not? Nietzsche, in proposing that selfishness is, in a sense, completely free of moral blame at all, comes to a conclusion that is completely opposite to the rest of the philosophers that we have studied. We shall see that Nietzsche is probably on the right track, and that selfishness is a faulty gauge of the morality of an action, and that morality is simply an illusory concept created by the individuals of society to prevent harm to themselves.

We have all seen it before. The African savanna. A cheetah. A pack of grazing gazelles. The cheetah stealthily approaches toward the pack of grazing gazelles. N...

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... of when selfish acts are morally permissible, we have first established that all sane actions are selfish in origin, and therefore, selfishness cannot be used as a measurement of morality. Secondly, the standard of morals which we use to gauge themorality of an action is based on our own selfish desire for personal power. As established by Nietzsche, actions done in the pursuit of personal power are natural, and therefore, from our own viewpoint, these actions are never objectionable. It is only when seen from another's perspective that these actions can be seen to be despicable because it threatens their personal pursuit for power. Therefore, the actions that others find objectionable are the actions performed by us that do not involve stealing personal power away from another. In this case, there is no definite set of morals that one can measure their actions to.
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