Culture And Morality Term Paper

Length: 5 pages Sources: 4 Subject: Family and Marriage Type: Term Paper Paper: #70932091 Related Topics: Premarital Sex, Atheist, Culture, Moral Values
Excerpt from Term Paper :

Morality, Culture, And Environment

The ideas behind morality are very different based on the culture, society, and environment in which that morality is seen. Because of that, there are questions regarding exactly what morality is, and how it can be addressed or understood. In short, what is moral to one person may not seem moral to another. Society as a whole generally determines what is acceptable within that society, but once a person leaves that society and goes to another, there may be very different thoughts and feelings about morality in the new society to which the person has moved (Blackburn, 2001). That can be true from country to country, but a person does not have to leave his or her home country to find differing views of morality. Especially in the United States, where there are so many different types of people and regions seem to have very different viewpoints, morality can be very fluid (Superson, 2009). For example, people in the South are traditionally seen as more church-going and more religious than people in the Pacific Northwest.

That does not mean there are no religious people in the PNW, or that no atheists live in the South, but the overall cultures are quite different from one another. Because of those differences, among others, the morality of the overall society is not the same. This is also true of the Midwest, the Southwest, the Northeast, and any other region a person chooses to identify with. They all have their stereotypical societies, and they all have different thoughts and feelings about what is moral. Of course, morality is also more than a religious issue. Even among people who have the same religion and the same denomination within that religion, there are different beliefs as to what is acceptable and what may be considered moral or immoral (Superson, 2009). Each person has his or her own beliefs, and each society becomes a collective of the majority's beliefs. That means every society will be a bit different from others, and there will be people in that society who do not fit in based on their moral compass.

Morality is generally considered to be a very personal thing, and people who are focused on their own morality do not always pay much attention to the morality of others. However, there are many people who see it as their personal crusade to focus on the morality of others, and make those people "see the error of their ways." People who do this want others to follow their personal moral code, instead of thinking for themselves and choosing what works for them and what they feel right about (Harris, 2010). Having the courage of one's convictions is important, but it can also be an issue if it is taken too far in trying to make others conform to something about which they do not feel comfortable. Morality is very much like that, as most people do not have a morality they would consider very fluid (Stanford, 2011). In other words, they believe in their personal version of what is right and wrong, and they are not interested in letting someone else attempt to tell them differently. While some people are open to that, the majority of people are not.

When enough people who share the same moral thoughts and values get together, they can form a society that shares their values. That comes about through government, most commonly, because laws are made that tell people what kinds of things are acceptable and what kinds of things are not (Blackburn, 2001). People who do not share the same morals have two choices: they can either conform to the morals set out by society, or they can break the law. If they break the law and are caught, there will be consequences they have to face, but they generally either do not care about those consequences, or they feel as though they are not going to be caught. Either way, they clearly have a different opinion of morals than what is seen by the majority of society (Blackburn, 2001). They are not the only ones, of course, but many who feel their moral code does not mesh with society either keep it to themselves or look for a society where they will be more accepted. They...


It is very easy to detail one's convictions about a number of things, but until a person is put into a specific set of circumstances, he or she may not really be able to say what would occur (Harris, 2010). Morals may be pushed to the limit or may even be changed during certain events, because human beings have natural reactions to things that may override what they feel is moral. An example of this would be the taking of another human life. Many people insist they would never, ever do this. Killing is wrong, and not justifiable. Whether they come at this from a place of religion, or they simply have chosen this as their own moral code, they clearly and definitively state that they do not believe in killing another person (Stanford, 2011). However, if they are at home when a person breaks in, and if that person is about to clearly do harm to their spouse or children, instincts to protect those people will come into play.

These could, potentially, result in the person taking the life of the intruder, which could be completely justifiable under the circumstances. Few would consider something like that to be an immoral act, as it is far different from being a murderer and taking a life simply because the opportunity to do so was presented. The person who killed the intruder would likely have very mixed feelings about the outcome, and would still have some guilt about the way it ended, even though it was understandable and necessary in the moment. Morals can and do shift at times, depending on the person, how strong that person's conviction are, and the particular set of circumstances in which that person finds himself or herself (Blackburn, 2001). That is not to say that people do not have morals they really believe in, or that matter to them, but only to say that it is very important to understand that even people who are very moral can be driven to do things that could be considered immoral, depending on numerous factors that occur at the time (Blackburn, 2001).

Part of what is seen in society when it comes to morality and culture comes from how people were raised. Most individuals in society raise children in that society with a particular moral code. This moral code is learned from their parents, older siblings, and extended family, along with members of society they will interact with in school, church, stores, and other places (Stanford, 2011). While morals are going to be very similar from people in a society because of their collective nature, there will also be parents who will raise their children differently and who will not really fit into the mold that society has set for them (Stanford, 2011). In some cases, the problems start with very dysfunctional families and only get worse as the children get older. In other cases, the parents seem to do everything the right way, and the children (or, typically, just one child in the family) turn out far differently from the others and their moral code. This could be good or bad, depending on the moral code of the other family members and how they mesh with the overall moral code of the society they are in.

Parents can play a very strong role in the moral code developed by their children. They help shape what the children believe in by showing them what they believe in (Blackburn, 2001). They also teach them right from wrong, based on what society has determined are the laws and rules. While not every child will accept those laws and rules as fact, most children grow up to be law-abiding and moral, at least in the sense that they follow the rules. That does not necessarily make them moral by everyone's definition, though (Harris, 2010). An atheist who follows all the laws would still not be seen as a moral person in the eyes of most devout Christians. Additionally, people who have premarital sex are often judged as immoral by those who believe that should be saved for marriage. There are many stereotypes that come along with that type of activity, and whether it is moral can also be seen to be an issue along gender lines. Men who have many partners are…

Sources Used in Documents:


Blackburn, S. (2001). Ethics: A very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Harris, S. (2010). The moral landscape: How science can determine human values. New York: Free Press.

Stanford University (2011). The definition of morality. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University.

Superson, A. (2009). The moral skeptic. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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