How do you define what is moral

The question of the week: what is morality?


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The question of the week: what is morality?

Every week we answer your questions on all kinds of topics. Today Nils asks us: "What is morality? Here you can find the answer ...

In the past, people used to refer to the Bible to answer questions about values ​​and right action.

Since Immanuel Kant and the Enlightenment at the latest, people have been relying less on the supposed word of God, but are instead trying to solve such questions with the help of their intellect.


Morality goes to the Latin word "moralis" back that as much as "concerning the custom" called. A custom is a form of human interaction or behavior, also known as a custom.

On the one hand, morality mainly describes actions that a person or a society expects from other people. So morality should ensure that people display a certain behavior.

For example, the left hand is considered unclean in the Indian culture. If you greet a person there with your left hand, it is a violation of the cultural customs of this society and, strictly speaking, an immoral behavior.

In addition, morality can also be viewed as the opposite of evil acts. In this case one speaks of "morally good" and is primarily concerned with what people consider to be right, good or just action.

If you help, for example, to settle a conflict between schoolmates peacefully, i.e. without violence, then that is a morally good act.

Where does morality come from?

Morality often has its origin in a vague feeling such as hatred, fear or disgust. Morality also depends on the society in which one lives: It is the sum of the values ​​and ideas that most people feel to be right, without being able to give further reasons for them. What feels "right" is moral and that differs considerably from region to region.

Photo: For devout Catholics, the Pope is considered a "moral authority". He evaluates what is good and bad and exemplifies it accordingly through his own behavior.

Morality, therefore, can refer to both the mores of a society and the deeds of a person. Incidentally, the area that deals with moral behavior is called ethics. It's a branch of philosophy. Ethics is, so to speak, the doctrine of morality, just as biology is the doctrine of living beings.

Text: RR / JJ, as of January 20, 2012 / Photo: Tadeusz Górny (pd),

Note: All images and links have been removed from the archive