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Moral Decision Making

Moral Decision Making

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Moral Decision Making

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  1. Moral Decision Making Religious Education Support, SLSS 1.1 The Meaning of Morality Religious Education Support, SLSS

  2. What is Morality? • How do we know what is right and wrong? • Is something right if it causes pleasure? • How do we know that something is good? • Does evil exist? • Why do we choose to do wrong when we know it is wrong? • Is morality about actions or character? • How do we become good people? • Do we need religion to be moral? • What is the relationship between what is good for me and for others? Religious Education Support, SLSS

  3. HAVING CONSIDERED THE PREVIOUS QUESTIONS, ONE MIGHT SAY THAT ..... • Human beings have free will - they can therefore make moral choices (decide between right and wrong). • Human beings, by their nature, tend to seek or aspire to what is good; • Human beings are social, and therefore act in a way that reflects awareness of others; • Human beings have the capacity of reason, which enables them to reflect upon what is good and to act in accordance with this reflection, rather than acting on instinct. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  4. So what then is morality? • Morality may be defined as “knowing the difference between right and wrong”. • We make the majority of our decisions on this basis. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  5. Moral Choices • Read the following statements and decide which ones have moral implications and which ones do not. • Drinking and driving is wrong • I’d like to help people in need • I got a B on my religion test • Bullying is wrong and hurtful • I would never steal • I’m going to have fruit for lunch • I am always honest – lying is wrong • I can see Mary’s exam, I’m going to copy her answers • How do you know the difference between moral and non-moral choices?

  6. Moral Choices Moral choices: • Involve a decision between what is right and what is wrong, or doing something good or bad. • Each individual is responsible for the consequences of their moral decisions. The basis for making moral choices is called morality.

  7. Human Relationships • When making moral decisions, we must remember that we have relationships with other people and our actions will affect them in different ways. • We connect with other people on three levels: • Interpersonal relationships • One on one • Family and friends • Communal relationships • Groups of people • Clubs, communities etc. • Global relationships • How you relate to people all over the world • Using Fair-trade products affects the people in the third world

  8. Human Relationships

  9. Freedom • Do you agree with this phrase: “I have the right to do whatever I please”! • Although we have free will to make any choice, we also have a responsibility to consider others before we make decisions • Respecting the freedom of others builds up human relationships and helps us make responsible moral decisions

  10. Actions and Consequences • It is safe to say that almost every action has consequences. • These may be positive or negative. • Sometimes, making a moral decision will result in hardship for ourselves (negative consequence). • In these situations, we must still ensure that the decision we make is the right one.

  11. Actions and Consequences • Read the following story: Lotto winner pays tribute to honesty of Centra worker Thursday, June 18th, 2009 - Mary Minihan THE LUCKY Lotto winner who left his ticket in the shop where he bought it has collected his €350,000 prize. Dermot Finglas from Drogheda, Co Louth, was tracked down by Tom Heavey, who works in the McDonnell’s Centra store in the town. Speaking to his local radio station LMFM, Mr Finglas paid tribute to Mr Heavey. Mr Heavey marked the forgotten ticket as “paid for” and put it away for safekeeping until Mr Finglas was identified on CCTV footage. “If people just aspire to be somebody even remotely like Tom. He is richer than anybody I can imagine,” Mr Finglas said. “At the end of the day it gives all of us a bit of hope about all this job situation in this country, people feeling down losing their jobs, and things like this.” Mr Finglas said he was going to “probably hit the Canary Islands with a couple of friends” with his winnings

  12. “Sitting around here thinking about it isn’t going to help me. I’m going to need to go somewhere where nobody knows my name to think about it.” He said friends in Chicago had sent him messages saying they had read the story in their local newspapers. Meanwhile, Mr Heavey revealed people had written to him to compliment him on his honesty. “Another man sent me a Quick Pick ticket,” he said. He insisted he had no regrets. “I never had any regrets. The ticket wasn’t mine. It was good news in a sea of bad news,” he said. Mr Heavey said he was pleased Mr Finglas had collected his winnings yesterday, after being told on Tuesday that a number of routine inquiries would have to be made. Article reprinted with kind permission of The Irish times Religious Education Support, SLSS

  13. Rights and Responsibilities • Rights: • A right is something that you are entitled to in order to live a dignified and meaningful life. • Examples: Food, shelter, clothing • A moral person will respect and protect the rights of others. • In 1948, the United Nations issued the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to establish the rights of every human being • Examples: The right to life, the right to nationhood, the right to freedom from slavery etc. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  14. Rights and Responsibilities • Responsibilities: • ... are something that you should do as a moral person • Rights and responsibilities go hand in hand. • You have a right to education, and you have a responsibility to work hard at school. • You also have a responsibility to respect other students right to education, and not be disruptive. • We also have a responsibility to take care of the earth, to preserve and protect it for future generations. This is known as ‘Stewardship of the Earth’. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  15. Influences on Morality • An influence is something that affects the decisions that we make and the way we feel about things. • We are influenced by many different people, situations and things. These influences change as we get older. • Your values are a major influence on your moral decisions. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  16. Values • What are values? • Values are anything that you consider good, worthwhile or important. • Your decisions are always influenced by your values, causing you to do something good or avoid something that goes against your values. • Examples of values: • Honesty • Freedom • Friendship Religious Education Support, SLSS

  17. Sources of Morality Our morality (our sense of right and wrong) comes from a number of different sources Religious Education Support, SLSS

  18. 1. Family • First and most important source of morality. • Parents teach children to differentiate between good and bad, right and wrong. • Children learn to treat other people with respect and they carry that value with them throughout their lives. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  19. 2. Friends • Friendships help us to become confident, building our self esteem. • Valuing friendships encourages us to respect others and be considerate towards other peoples feelings. • However, friends can also have a negative influence on our morality. • Peer pressure can influence you to do things that are morally wrong because you want to fit in with your group of friends. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  20. 3. School • School influences our morality in a number of ways. • The ethos of the school describes the kind of place that school should be and the way you should behave in it: • What is your school ethos? • The school has it’s own set of rules, outlining how you should act while you are there: • Think of some of your school rules that relate to morality • Many classes in school aim to teach you about morality and about the consequences of your actions: • In your opinion, what subjects (at both junior and senior level) teach these topics? Religious Education Support, SLSS

  21. 4. Religion • Every religion teaches it’s followers about morality, and has it’s own set of religious values. • Many religious values influences state laws, for example Catholic countries prohibit divorce, Muslim countries prohibit relationships outside of marriage. • Christianity teaches followers to ‘treat others as you would like to be treated’. This belief influences Christians to make good moral decisions. • The sacred text is a source of moral guidance for followers of every religion. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  22. 5. State • The government make laws based on the common good – what will benefit the citizens of the country. • It is illegal to kill another human being • It is illegal to steal • When you abide by the laws of the country, you are looking to the state as a source of morality. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  23. Other sources of morality • Media • Highlights important issues and encourages people to do the right thing (for example drink driving advertisements) • TV programs often carry moral messages, where the characters face moral dilemmas and make moral decisions • Emotions • Sympathy and compassion encourage us to help people in trouble or in need • Anger and hatred can have negative consequences on our actions Religious Education Support, SLSS

  24. Moral Vision • What is moral vision? • Your outlook on life, from a moral point of view • Shaped by our values, what we believe to be important • The decisions we make are influenced by our moral vision and our values Religious Education Support, SLSS

  25. Moral Vision • What kind of moral vision do you have? • How do you think it developed? • What was the biggest influence on your moral vision? Religious Education Support, SLSS

  26. To Sum Up... • Morality is an issue that has concerned man since the dawn of time. • With the Greeks came the study of morality in a disciplined way... This became known as ethics. • The study of morality raises a lot of questions because by its very nature morality deals with human relationships and decisions and the situations that arise as a result of those relationships/ decisions. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  27. Q.1 Give three examples from modern culture which show that morality is a natural human phenomenon Religious Education Support, SLSS

  28. For this question, you must give three examples from recent times which demonstrate that morality is a natural human phenomenon. • For your introduction you might give a brief definition of the term ‘morality’ and explain in your own words what you think morality is. • The term morality can be defined in many different ways, some of which are more simple than others. However, if one was to explain the term in a simple way, ‘morality might be defined as being concerned with what is right and wrong, good and evil’ (Fr Donal O’Neill. Moral Decision Making). • If we are to give a more detailed description of morality, we must reflect on the questions that we considered earlier (slide 3). Religious Education Support, SLSS

  29. Introduction • From the beginning of time, people in societies around the world, have lived according to certain values (both personal and communal). • Although many people would argue that there are no absolute moral norms, that morality is relative and a lot of the time our morals come from the ‘nurture’ process, i.e. Social conditioning... one feels that it is fairly safe to say that there is one moral certainty that few would disagree with...that is that anything that damages that dignity of the person is an immoral act. • The term ‘crimes against humanity’ is one that is used in international law to define “any act that constitutes a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings”(Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, 2002). • Lets take a look at three examples, the reaction to which shows that morality i.e. knowing the difference between right and wrong, is a natural human phenomenon and not just a question of ‘nurture’ or social conditioning. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  30. Example 1: Rwanda • Between April and June 1994, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed in the space of 100 days. • Most of the dead were Tutsis - and most of those who perpetrated the violence were Hutus. • Even for a country with such a turbulent history as Rwanda, the scale and speed of the slaughter left its people reeling. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  31. The early organisers included military officials, politicians and businessmen, but soon many others joined in the mayhem. • Encouraged by the presidential guard and radio propaganda, an unofficial militia group called the Interahamwe (meaning those who attack together) was mobilised. At its peak, this group was 30,000-strong. • Soldiers and police officers encouraged ordinary citizens to take part. In some cases, Hutu civilians were forced to murder their Tutsi neighbours by military personnel. • Participants were often given incentives, such as money or food, and some were even told they could appropriate the land of the Tutsis they killed. • On the ground at least, the Rwandans were largely left alone by the international political community. UN troops withdrew after the murder of 10 soldiers. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  32. Refugees fled to the neighbouring countries of Congo and Zaire. • After the killing in Rwanda had ended, the presence of Hutu militias in DR Congo has led to years of conflict there, causing up to five million deaths. • Rwanda's now Tutsi-led government has twice invaded its much larger neighbour, saying it wants to wipe out the Hutu forces. • A Congolese Tutsi rebel group remains active, refusing to lay down arms, saying otherwise its community would be at risk of genocide. • The world's largest peacekeeping force has been unable to end the fighting. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  33. How did outsiders React to the Genocide in Rwanda? • Ten Belgian peacekeepers were killed on the orders of the Hutu extremists on April 7th 1994. The UN peacekeeping force was withdrawn within days. • The 5500 African troops who were sent by the UN to Rwanda, were delayed because of arguments over who would pay for them. • Foreign Nationals Evacuated Countries such as France, America and Belgium evacuated their own citizens, leaving behind Rwandans they had employed. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  34. How does what happened in Rwanda show that morality is a natural human phenomenon? • Even though the international political community failed the Rwandans.... • On the 28th April 1994, Oxfam, a UK based humanitarian agency, released a briefing paper stating that the killings in Rwanda constituted genocide. It warned that the lives of 750,000 people were in danger and requested that the UN Security Council send troops to reinforce the UN position in Rwanda and protect citizens. It was the first British based humanitarian aid agency to publicly use the word ‘genocide’ to describe what was happening in Rwanda. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  35. What happened in Rwanda has been described as a ‘crime against humanity’. • Genocide is considered one of the most severe crimes against humanity. • Genocide is a crime under international law even if it is not a crime in the country where it takes place, and incitement to commit genocide is also a crime. • Not since the Holocaust had mass murder been seen on this scale. People the world over were horrified. However, it took a number of years for the full truth of what happened in Rwanda to be realised. • Many of the Hutu leader that participated in the massacre have put on trial and punished for their crimes... This demonstrates the desire of the international community to draw attention to the immorality of what took place. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  36. Example 2: Terrorist Attacks 9/11 The September 11 attacks (often referred to as 9/11, pronounced nine-eleven) were a series of coordinated suicide attacks by al-Qaeda upon the United States on September 11, 2001. On that morning, 19 Islamist terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners. The hijackers intentionally crashed two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in New York City, killing everyone on board and many others working in the buildings. Excluding the 19 hijackers, 2,974 people died in the attacks. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  37. How did people react to the events of 9/11? • The 9/11 attacks had immediate and overwhelming effects upon the American people. • Many police officers and rescue workers elsewhere in the country took leaves of absence to travel to New York City to assist in the process of recovering bodies from the twisted remnants of the Twin Towers. • Blood donations across the U.S. also saw a surge in the weeks after 9/11. • The attacks were denounced by mainstream media and governments worldwide. Across the globe, nations offered pro-American support and solidarity. Leaders in most Middle Eastern countries, including Afghanistan, condemned the attacks. • In the days immediately following the attacks, many memorials and vigils were held around the world. People reached out to help one another. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  38. How does what happened as a result of 9/11 show that morality is a natural human phenomenon? • If one refers back to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the Declaration recognises the ‘inherent dignity and inalienable rights of all members of the human family’. The innocent victims of 9/11 suffered an attack on their most basic right to live in peace and security. • As a result of the attacks a number of international conventions on terrorism and human rights have taken place. • Political leaders across the globe have united in their condemning of acts of terrorism. • Hundreds of visitors each day visit ‘Ground Zero’ to pay respect to those who lost their lives there. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  39. In Ireland, a memorial has been erected in Donadea forest, Co.Kildare to commemorate the death of Sean Tallon (who’s father was a native of Donadea) , a member of the New York Fire Department who lost his life in the 9/11 attacks. The memorial (twin blocks) carry the names engraved of all the of the New York Fire Department, Police Officers Port Authority officials who died in the Twin Towers. • The building of such memorials highlights the desire to bear witness to the loss of innocent life and to commend the bravery of those who tried to help. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  40. Example 3: Corruption in public life • In more and more countries across the globe and particularly in democratic countries where people have freedom of speech, there is a call for greater transparency and accountability from politicians. • You only have to open any newspaper on any given day to see the blatant desire for a more ethical, fair leadership. • In recent times in Ireland, we have witnessed the setting up of numerous tribunals (Flood/ Mahon Tribunal etc...). The purpose of setting up these tribunals was to investigate the wrongdoings, illegal actions and abuse of power of those politicians involved. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  41. The Flood Tribunal was set up eight years ago to investigate allegations of planning corruption in Ireland. • The tribunal has its critics (resulting from issues such as duration of tribunal, legal fees etc.) however, no one can deny that the existence of the tribunal shows the desire to bring those involved to justice. • Frank Dunlop, a disgraced former government press secretary has begun serving an 18 month prison sentence (May 2009), having pleaded guilty to five charges of corruption. He admitted bribing Dublin county councillors to rezone land in the Dublin area over a number of years for the benefit of developers. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  42. Dunlop’s actions had undermined public confidence in the democratic system. And, as the judge said . . . “corruption of politicians, or anyone in public life, must attract significant penalties”. • In receiving a jail term Dunlop becomes the third major political or public figure to serve a prison sentence arising from investigations by tribunals that have now been sitting for some 12 years. • The maintenance of voters’ trust in the integrity of the politicians they elect is of critical importance in a democracy. In this regard, the tribunals have played a key role in investigating and exposing corruption, and in helping to raise the standards of those in public office. The courts have shown that no one is above the law, and that there are no untouchables. Dunlop’s fate represents a deterrent to anyone tempted to think that corrupt practices will go unpunished. Information above adapted from an article - ‘Dunlop in Jail’ printed in the Irish Times, May 27 2009. Reproduced with kind permission. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  43. Q.2 Identify one of the chief moral concerns of each of the following civilisations: The Greeks, the Hebrews & the Romans. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  44. The Greeks • The Greeks wrote extensively on ethics... Try to recall the writings of Plato, Socrates etc... • Their writings were hugely important and have shaped the way that we in the western world think today. • For the ancient Greek philosophers, one of their chief ethical concerns was the existence of virtue... Religious Education Support, SLSS

  45. Aristotle & Virtue • Aristotle (384-322 BCE) was one of the most influential of the Greek philosophers... • His writings were especially important to Catholic Moral Theology and Aristotle’s thinking had a huge influence on Thomas Aquinas. • One of his main concepts, as previously stated was the existence of virtue. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  46. According to his book, Moral Decision Making, Fr Donal O’Neill states that virtue or arête may be defined as ‘excellence in fulfilling one’s proper task or purpose’. • Aristotle rightly believed that the capacity to reason is exclusive to human beings, therefore, in order for us to fulfil our task in life, we must develop our intellectual and moral selves – in other words our moral virtues. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  47. Aristotle believed that we become virtuous by doing virtuous things... • That we grow from doing virtuous things out of education and habit, to doing them because we believe them to be right and good. • Aristotle sees training by parents, teachers and the state as being very important. • Living a good life for the ancient Greeks, meant living in accordance with moral virtue. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  48. Example of Virtue: Heroism • In Greek mythology, we can easily see how important virtue was to this ancient civilisation.... • As we saw in Section A (The Search for Meaning and Values).. Myths highlighted key areas of concern/ importance for ancient societies. • Good examples of virtue that are highlighted in Greek mythology are heroism, honour, bravery, loyalty. • In the story of Achilles for example, Achilles is the legendary but reluctant warrior who fought in the Trojan War. His mother Thetis, who dipped him in the river Styx after he was born, rendered him nearly impervious to harm by this action. However, she had to hold onto his heel in order to retrieve him from the water, thus missing a spot. The only way Achilles could be killed was by injury to his heel. This leads to the now famous expression, Achilles’ heel, meaning a person’s major weak point. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  49. The story of Achilles figures largely in Homer’s Iliad. • Achilles is first introduced as having withdrawn from the war in a fight with Agamemnon over the capture of several Trojan women (... demonstrating integrity). • However, the Trojans kill the best friend of Achilles, Patroclus. The death of Patroclus spurs Achilles to action and he rushes to battle, with great might and purpose. Achilles kills Hector, but is then killed by Paris, thus fulfilling the prophecy regarding his fate, i.e that he would die in battle. Religious Education Support, SLSS

  50. The Hebrews • Morality is an intrinsic part of the Jewish faith and the Jewish faith has influenced other religions that have grown from its scriptures. • The Hebrew notion of ethics is different from that of the Greeks in that for the ancient Jews, human responsibility (morality) comes from the reality of God.. (the Greeks saw ethics as separate from religion). • Jewish morality is shaped by the Torah (Hebrew scripture). The covenant and the Decalogue (10 Commandments) show that for the Hebrews, morality was part of a person’s relationship with God. Religious Education Support, SLSS