Morality and Sources of Morality

Who is morally responsible?

Morality pertains only to human beings, all else is just speculation. If one wants to attribute morality to supernatural beings (God), one has to do so on faith. If one wants to hold animals or plants morally responsible for destructive acts against each other or against humans then one has to ignore most of the evidence that science has given.

Recent experimentation with the teaching of language to animals suggests that they are at least minimally capable of developing some thought processes similar to those of humans. It is even possible that they might be taught morality in the future, as humans are now. If this were to occur then animals could be held morally responsible for their actions. At the present time, most evidence indicates that animals and plants should be classified as either non-moral or amoral.

While discussing the application of morality, let’s understand the various aspects of morality;

    • RELIGIOUS MORALITY – Relationship between human beings and supernatural being (God) is the source of Religious morality. In Hindu tradition, Swayamvar (Choosing one’s own groom) is considered as religious duty and those who violate the norms of this divine duty are answerable to God after death. For instance, In Mahabharat, Conduct of Bhism to win queens of Kashi Janpadas on behalf of his step brother is generally regarded as violation to the norms of Swayambar, thereby, answerable to God.
    • MORALITY AND NATURE – It refers to a human being in relationship to nature which is been prevalent in all primitive cultures. More recently, the Western tradition has also become aware of the significance of dealing with nature in a moral manner (For e.g. Environmental Ethics). Some see nature as being valuable only for the good of humanity but many others have come to see it as a good in itself, worthy of moral consideration.
    • INDIVIDUAL MORALITY – It is derived as a result of individual code of morality that may not be sanctioned by any society or religion. It allows for a “higher morality” (based on Conscience) which can be found within the individual rather than beyond this world. For example, Divya believes in Gandharva Vivah (Pre- Marital sex or loosely described as Live-in- Relationship) based on her conscience or code of morality.
    • SOCIAL MORALITY – It is the result of human interaction in the society. Whenever human beings come together in social groups, conflict is bound to happen in absence of social code of conduct. This code of conduct is either of divine origin (Chaturvarna system of Vedas) or man-made (Ethical Egoism, Altruism or Utilitarianism). For example, virtue of tolerance and mutual acceptance can be considered as an aspect of social morality in Indian society.