Monday, June 24, 2013

Reversing Forward – Is Morality Just Rule Following?

I live on a one-way street.  However, I frequently observe cars going the wrong way up the street.  But even more interestingly, some people go the wrong way up the street in reverse.  Does this make it O.K.? 

Isn’t that the human condition, we know the right thing to do, but it can be inconvenient or painful, so we try to do something else?  But we have a nagging feeling that we need to do the right thing so we try to renegotiate the rules.  If I can’t drive forward in that direction, maybe driving the forbidden direction in reverse is a little better.  Not perfect, but then we are only human – right?

If we see doing the right thing as following the rules, there is a temptation to try to modify the rules so they are easier for us to comply with.  Further, if being ethical or living a morally good life merely involves following the rules, then our motives for doing so are of no consequence.  That is to say, we don’t drive the correct way down the street because it is the right thing to do but because we are just following a rule.