Morality (Latin moralitas) – the concept of European philosophy, serving for the generalized expression of the sphere of higher values and owes. Morality summarizes that section of human experience, the different sides of which are designated by the words “good” and “evil”, “virtue” and “vice”, “right” and “wrong”, “duty”, “conscience”, “justice” e. Representations of morality are formed in the process of comprehension, first, correct behavior, proper character (“moral image”), and secondly, the conditions and limits of the person’s confinement, limited by one’s own (internal) obligation, as well as the limits of freedom under externally imposed conditions organizational and (or) regulatory order.

In the world history of ideas, one can reconstruct the antinomic notions of morality as:

  • the system (code) imputed to man in the performance of norms and values (universal and absolute or particular and relative) and
  • the sphere of individual self-identity of a person (free or predetermined by some external factors).

According to one of the most common modern approaches, morality is treated as a way of regulating (in particular, normative) people’s behavior. Such an understanding is formulated by John S. Mill, although it is formed earlier – the idea of morality as a form of imperativeness (in contrast to the dominant understanding of morality in the enlightenment of morality as primarily the sphere of motives) occurs in different variants in Hobbes, Mandeville, and Kant.

In the perception and interpretation of the imperative of morality, several approaches and levels are distinguishable. First, a nihilistic attitude toward morality, in which imperativeness is not accepted as such:

  • any ordering of individual manifestations, in the form of everyday rules, social norms or universal cultural principles, is perceived as a yoke, suppression of the person (Protagoras, Sad, Nietzsche).
  • protest against the external coercion of morality, in which the moral pathos itself can be expressed – an individualized attitude towards the prevailing mores or the negation of external, official, hypocritical subordination to social norms; the intrinsic value of morality is interpreted as its outside control from data and self-authenticated norms and rules (SL Frank and P. Jane).
  • interpretation of the imperative of morality as an expression of the need for expedient interaction in society. Understanding morality as a set of “rules of behavior” (Spencer, JS Mill, Durkheim) puts it in a more general system (nature, society) and the criterion of morality of actions is their adequacy to the needs and goals of the system. In the mainstream of this understanding of imperativeness, morality is interpreted not as a force of supra-individual control over the behavior of citizens, but as a mechanism of people-to-people interaction (Sophists, Epicurus, Hobbes, Rousseau, Rawls), established by people and enshrined in the “social contract” As citizens of one community take upon themselves. In this sense, morality is conventional, variable, prudential.
  • consideration of moral imperative in terms of its specificity, which is that it is more compelling than prohibitive: moral sanctions, addressed to a person as a conscious and free subject, are of an ideal nature (Kant, Hegel, Hear).
  • understanding of the mutual and self-restraint, imputed by morality, as pointing out that its peculiarity that morality sets the form of will; the fulfillment of the demand directly depends on the person, fulfilling the demand, he as it himself proclaims it. This is the feature of non-institutionalized forms of behavioral regulation. With this is connected with the fact that the morality of actions is determined both by the content and result of the action performed, and to no less extent by the intention with which it was committed, which essentially distinguishes morality from law-abiding, adaptability, servility or diligence.

The “inner-motivating” character of imperative morality was reflected in special concepts of duty and conscience. However, the imperative of morality is perceived as “inner”, i.e. (as autonomous, self-determining and creative), with a definite, namely social or socio-communitarian point of view on morality, according to which morality is a norm in the community, and the personality in its activity is conditioned by those dependencies in which it a member of the community is included. Under the assumption of the variously interpreted transcendental principles of human activity and, accordingly, when considering a person not only as a social or socio-biological but also as a kindred, spiritual being capable of volitional and active change in external circumstances, and himself, the source of moral imperativeness is treated otherwise. Man translates and so on. represents a transcendent (in relation to the society) value content in society. Hence arises the idea of virtue or moral phenomena in general as having a value that is self-valuable, not conditioned by other vital factors. These are the different ideas about the imperative nature of morality, in which the role of harmonizing isolated interests, but also ensuring the freedom of the individual and resisting arbitrariness – in one way or another – has been reflected (by limiting the spontaneity, ordering the individual (as tending to atomization, alienation) behavior, understanding of the goals to which the individual is striving (in particular, to achieve personal happiness), and the means that are used for this.

In comparison with other regulations (legal, local-group, administrative-corporate, confessional, etc.), moral regulation has peculiarities arising from its specifics. Substantially the moral requirements may or may not coincide with those of other species; while morality regulates people’s behavior within the framework of existing institutions, but as to the fact that these regulations are not covered. Unlike a number of social discipline tools that ensure the opposition of a person as a member of the community to natural elements, morality is called upon to ensure the independence of man as a spiritual being (personality) in relation to his own drives, spontaneous reactions and external group and social pressure. Through morality, arbitrariness is transformed into freedom. Accordingly, in its internal logic, morality is addressed to those who consider themselves free. Proceeding from this, one can speak of it as a social institution only in the broad sense of the word; as an aggregate of certain values and requirements formulated in culture (codified and rationalized), the sanctioning of which is ensured by the fact of their existence. Morality is non-institutional in the narrow sense of the word: to the extent that its effectiveness does not need to be provided by any social institutions and to what extent its coercion is not conditioned by the presence of an external force with respect to the individual by the authorized body. Accordingly, the practice of morality, being a predetermined (given) space of arbitrary behavior, in turn sets the space of freedom. Such a character of morality makes it possible to appeal to it when assessing existing social institutions, as well as proceed from it when they are formed or reformed.

On the issue of the relationship of morality and sociality (social relations), there are two main points of view. According to one, morality is a kind of social relations and is conditioned by basic social relations (Marx, Durkheim); according to another, differently expressed, morality does not directly depend on social relations, moreover, it is predicated on sociality. Duality in this issue is related to the following. Morality, of course, is woven into the public practice and in its reality is mediated by it. However, morality is not homogeneous: on the one hand, it is a set of principles (precepts) based on an abstract ideal, and on the other hand, practical values and demands through which this ideal is widely recognized, displayed by a separate consciousness and included in the regulation of people’s actual relations. The ideal, supreme values and imperatives are perceived and comprehended by various social actors, which record, explain and substantiate them in accordance with their social interests. This feature of morality as a value consciousness was reflected already in the utterances of the Sophists; it was clearly recorded by Mandeville, reflected in its own way by Hegel in the distinction between “morality” (Moralitat) and “morality” (Sittlichkeit); Marxism developed the notion of morality as a form of class ideology, i.e. transformed consciousness.

In modern philosophy, this internal heterogeneity is reflected in the concept of “primary” and “secondary” morality presented in the early works of E. Macintayre, or in the differentiation of E. E. Donagan’s moral requirements of the first and second order In connection with the specificity of the imperative of morality there arises an important problem of its bases, partly reflected in the antithesis of autonomy and heteronomy. This problem concerns not only the nature of the “moral law” and the status of the moral subject, but also morality in general: does it have an external basis or is it based on itself? According to the ideas of heteronomous ethics, morality is a function of the actions of natural, social, psychological or transcendental factors. One of the most common expressions of this view is the view of it as an instrument of power (Sophists, Mandeville, Holbach). Through utopian socialist thought, this view was perceived by Marxism, where morality is also interpreted as a form of ideology, and through Stirner influenced Nietzsche’s interpretation of morality. As in Marxism, morality was represented in Durkheim’s social theory as one of the mechanisms of social organization: its institutions and normative content were dependent on actual social conditions, and religious and moral ideas were considered only as economic states appropriately expressed by consciousness.

In the New European philosophy (thanks to Machiavelli, Montaigne, Bodin, Beyleu, Grotius), another notion of morality develops: as an independent and not reducible to religion, politics, management, or training in the form of controlling people’s behavior. This intellectual orientation to the secularization of the field of morals has become a condition for a more private process of formation and development in 17-18 of the actual philosophical concept of morality. The notion of morality as such is formed as a notion of autonomous morality. For the first time in a systematized form, this approach was developed in the Cambridge Neoplatonists of the 17th century (R.Kadworth, G.Mur) and in the sentimentalism of ethics (Shaftesbury, Hutcheson), where morality is described as a person’s ability to judge and behave independently and independently of external influences. In Kant’s philosophy, the autonomy of morality as an autonomy of the will was also affirmed as a person’s ability to make universal decisions and to be a subject of his own legislation. According to Kant, appeals not only to society, but also to nature, to God, are characterized by heteronomous ethics. Later J.E.Mur sharply strengthened this thesis by pointing out the inadmissibility in the theoretical substantiation of morality of references to extra-moral qualities:

  1. The concept of morality, developed in European philosophy since the 17th century, is a concept adequate to the new European one, i.e. secularized society, which developed according to the model of civil society. In it, autonomy is an unconditional social and moral value, against which many values of a society of a traditional type, for example, the value of service, recede into the background, or even completely lost sight of.
  2. And from the point of view of the ethics of service, and from the point of view of the ethics of civil society, the question arises of the subject of the moral responsibility of the subject in morality, understood as an autonomous morality. An essential sign of morality in its specifically philosophical understanding is universality. In the history of ethical and philosophical thought, three main interpretations of the phenomenon of universality are traced: as universality, universalizability and general adherence. The first draws attention to the very fact of the presence of certain moral representations, in fact different in content, in all peoples, in all cultures. The second is a concretization of the golden rule of morality and suggests that any particular moral decision, action or judgment of any individual is potentially explicable for every decision, action or judgment in a similar situation. The third concerns Ch. about. imperative side of morality and indicates that any of its demands are addressed to every person. In principle, universality reflected the properties of morality as a mechanism of culture, which gives a person a timeless and nonsituative criterion for evaluating actions; through morality an individual becomes a citizen of the world.

The described features of morality are revealed at its conceptualization from the point of view of imperativeness – as system of norms. In a different way, morality is conceptualized as a sphere of values, given by the dichotomy of good and evil. With this approach, formed as a so-called. the ethics of the good and the dominant in the history of philosophy, morality does not appear on the part of its functioning (how it acts, what the nature of the demand is, what social and cultural mechanisms guarantee its realization, what should the person be like a subject of morality, etc.) aspect of what a person should strive for and what to do for the sake of it, what are the results of his actions. In this connection, the question arises as to how moral values are formed. In modern literature (philosophical and applied), the difference in the fundamental approaches to the interpretation of the nature of morality is associated, on the basis of a generalization of the late European European philosophical experience, with the traditions of Kantianism (understood as intuitionism) and utilitarianism.

A more definite concept of morality is established in the way of correlating good and evil with those common goals-values, to which a person is guided in his actions. This is possible on the basis of distinguishing between the private and the general good and analyzing the multidirectional interests (dispositions, emotions) of a person. Then morality is seen in the restriction of selfish motivation by a social contract or reason (Hobbes, Rawls), in a reasonable combination of selfishness and benevolence (Shaftesbury, utilitarianism), in abandoning selfishness, compassion and altruism (Schopenhauer). These differences are continued in metaphysical clarifications of the nature of man and the essential characteristics of his being.

A person is dual in nature (this idea can be expressed in conceptually different forms), and the space of morality is opened beyond that duality, in the struggle of the immanent and transcendent principles. With this approach (Augustine, Kant, Berdyaev), the essence of morality is revealed, first, through the very fact of the inner contradiction of human existence and through the way this fact turns into the possibility of its freedom, and secondly, through how the person in concrete actions on individual circumstances can realize a common, ideal principle of morality, how in general a person becomes attached to the absolute. In this regard, a feature of morality as one of the types of value consciousness among others (art, fashion, religion) is revealed. The question is put either that moral values are one-way with others and differ from them by their content and mode of existence (they are imperative, they are imputed in a certain way), or so that any values insofar as they correlate decisions, actions and assessments a person with a sense of life and an ideal, are moral.

One more conceptualization of the concept of morality, which adjoins the previous one, is possible in the construction of ethics as a theory of virtues. The tradition of this approach comes from antiquity, where, in the most developed form, it is represented by Aristotle. Throughout the history of philosophy, both approaches – the theory of norms and the theory of virtues – somehow complemented each other, as a rule, within the framework of some constructions, although the ethics of virtues prevailed (for example, in Thomas Aquinas, B.Franklin, McIntyre). If the ethic of norms reflects the side of morality that is associated with the forms of organization or regulation of behavior, and the ethic of values analyzes the positive content, through the norms imputable to man in execution, the ethics of virtues points to the personal aspect of morality, to what a person should be to realize proper and proper behavior. In medieval thought, two fundamental sets of virtues were recognized: “cardinal” and “theological virtues.” However, along with this distinction in the history of ethics, an understanding of morality is formed, according to which the cardinal in the proper sense of the word are the virtues of justice and mercy. In terms of theoretical description, these different virtues point to two levels of morality – the moral of social interaction and the moral of personal choice.

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