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Motivation in Morality

Discussion in 'Ethics & Morality' started by Treeplanter, Jun 16, 2021.

  1. Treeplanter

    Treeplanter Member

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    Consider this:

    Were I to donate my time and energy helping to feed the hungry at a soup kitchen, I think we can all agree that this would be a good and moral thing

    Regardless of my motivation/reason for being there - it is a moral ACTION because there is good coming from it, right?

    Hungry people are being fed
    That's good

    It is my contention, though, that my status as a moral PERSON hinges entirely upon my motivation/reason for undertaking said action

    If I help to feed the hungry primarily because I care about people and I desire to alleviate their suffering and to benefit their lives then I am a moral person on the basis of doing so

    If, on the other hand, I help to feed the hungry primarily because my boss at work is pressuring me to do so and I am angling for a promotion then I am NOT a moral person on the basis of donating my time and energy to a soup kitchen



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  2. eleos1954

    eleos1954 God is Love Supporter

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    well ... you say this ....

    Regardless of my motivation/reason for being there - it is a moral ACTION because there is good coming from it, right?

    and then you give an example that does indeed has motive behind it.

    ???

    so what motivates someone does matter (i.e. selfless or selfish motives)
     
  3. Clare73

    Clare73 Blood-bought

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    If you do so because you love God who commands it, you are a "moral" person.
     
  4. public hermit

    public hermit social troglodyte Supporter

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    In this case, I would say the act is good, but the goodness of the act (attribution of intention) cannot be attributed to you by much but mostly to your boss. It is true that you could have prevented the act from happening, which secures a thimble of merit towards your account perhaps. But if your motives were in no way moved by the good that would obtain for the recipient of your (compelled) act of charity, then you basically become a tool.
     
  5. Treeplanter

    Treeplanter Member

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    Actually, I gave TWO motives for the same moral action

    One selfless
    and
    one selfish

    We all, presumably, agree that the individual who does the right thing for the right {i.e. selfless} reason is a moral person

    The question, though, is this:
    Is the person who does the right thing for the wrong {selfish} reason also a moral person?
     
  6. Treeplanter

    Treeplanter Member

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    So a person who does the right thing and is motivated to do the right thing by a love for his/her fellow man is not / cannot be moral?
     
  7. Treeplanter

    Treeplanter Member

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    Huh???

    I presented TWO separate motivations

    One, a selfless love for one's fellow man and the other, a desire to selfishly score brownie points with one's boss

    I don't think anyone is going to disagree that the person who selflessly feeds the hungry out of a love for his fellow man is a moral person

    What I want to know, however, is whether any of you will call moral a man who feeds the hungry only because he is selfishly trying to advance himself?
     
  8. public hermit

    public hermit social troglodyte Supporter

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    I answered that. I should have used "he" instead of "you." My apologies.

    He gets some credit for fulfilling the boss's intention to feed the hungry. He could have not done it. He knows what the boss wants, i.e. feed the hungry. If he were less selfish, and perhaps more spiteful, he could gave refused and the good deed would not have obtained. How much credit does he get on that account? Not much. So, my answer was he is not a moral person in that particular instance, but a tool for his boss's good intentions. He's a tool.
     
  9. partinobodycular

    partinobodycular New Member

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    If I understand my Catholicism correctly, a sinful action is always sinful, but the culpability for that action can be lessened depending upon the circumstances and the intentions. I would assume that the merit for a moral action can likewise be lessened by the circumstances and intentions.

    But personally, I see no moral merit in feeding the hungry.
     
  10. Clare73

    Clare73 Blood-bought

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    I am adding to the group of the moral, not subracting from it.
     
  11. Treeplanter

    Treeplanter Member

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    No apologies necessary!

    So, you're saying that, in order to be a moral person, it's not enough just to do what is right and good, but you must also do so for the right reason{s}?
     
  12. Treeplanter

    Treeplanter Member

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    Not explicitly, no - but isn't that what you were implying?

    My contention, as stated in the OP, is that one's status as a moral person hinges entirely upon one's motivation/reason for undertaking a good and right action

    Your exact response was:
    "If you do so"
    {i.e. if you do what is good and right}
    "because you love God who commands it, you are a "moral" person."

    This, to me, certainly implies that you are stating that doing what is good and right, in the absence of a love for God, is not enough, in your eyes, to qualify a person as moral


    And besides that, I was just asking...
     
  13. Clare73

    Clare73 Blood-bought

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    See post #10.
     
  14. Treeplanter

    Treeplanter Member

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    I would agree
    A sinful action is always, in and of itself, sinful

    However, is the person committing a sinful action always guilty of being sinful or does intent matter?

    What if I tricked a Christian into taking the name of the Lord in vain by means of asking him/her to read aloud a blasphemous statement which I have written in the Czech language - a language not understood by the Christian

    The Christian will have, technically, sinned by virtue of taking the name of the Lord in vain

    Is it fair, though, to call the Christian a sinner on this basis or is it true that in order to qualify as a sinner one must consciously and purposefully choose to sin?


    ETA:
    No moral merit in caring for our fellow man?
     
  15. Treeplanter

    Treeplanter Member

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    See post #6

    I didn't accuse you of anything, I asked you a simple question - no need to to get all huffy
     
  16. public hermit

    public hermit social troglodyte Supporter

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    I think moral acts, if they are going to qualify as being done for a good end, should also include the intention to obtain that same end. I want to say "acts" instead of "persons" because I wouldn't say a person's moral character can be assessed on the basis of one act. But, yeah, intentions matter.
     
  17. Treeplanter

    Treeplanter Member

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    My last post to you was in response to "See post #10" which, at the time of my last post to you, was simply "If you do so because you love God who commands it, you are a "moral" person."

    Not sure what you are meaning to say now about "adding to the group of the moral"?

    If there was no "huffiness' intended, then my apologies!
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2021
  18. Treeplanter

    Treeplanter Member

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    I agree - a moral character is formed not by individual acts, but rather by a preponderance of acts

    That said, I am glad to hear that intentions, in your opinion, matter
     
  19. Clare73

    Clare73 Blood-bought

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    Depends on the definition of moral person.

    What is the definition?

    I suspect it is: one who does what is moral.

    You need to define "moral."

    Oops! Post not addressed to me.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2021
  20. Clare73

    Clare73 Blood-bought

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    I was not excluding there the one who does the moral thing because of love of God from the group who does the moral thing because of the love of man, I was including them in that group of the moral.
    No offense.
     
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