My morality

Conceptually, my morality is a mess, but it works for me.

I had thought I was so Consequentialist that my response to, say, deontological ethics was, well, what good does the rule do? I have to define what is good: whatever promotes the flourishing of human beings and the good of the biosphere. As a queer, I have enemies and persecutors and I want them corrected; but assert that is for their own good.

My morality is about balancing conflicting principles. It is good to live in a State with laws to protect us, so I should obey the law; but nuclear weapons are abominable, so I would break the law to resist them, if I see a worthwhile opportunity. My morality is contingent. Yes, Universalisability; but circumstances will be so varied that I can always find something to distinguish my situation from another’s.

Thinking of deontology, though, there are rules which I accept. Formerly, it was important to me that my morality was my own: I choose rules and assent to them, rather than having them enforced on me. I tend to feel don’t lie, don’t steal are good rules. I am fascinated to learn of virtue ethics. I see that virtues may be developed as habit, particularly virtues of courage or persistence. I love Aristotle’s Golden mean, the virtue between two vices, though the only one I could think of was courage between cowardice and foolhardiness, and that was the first on Wikipedia too. Eventually I found this.

I want what is fitting and honourable, paying proper respect to myself and the World, partly as an end in itself and partly to see myself as a good person. “I am the kind of person who…” keeps me on the right track, or attempting, or pretending. Virtue and rules may affect me more in the moment of impulse, performing an act or making a choice.

Thinking of decisions, I am more consequentialist, though I have a sense of what is fitting, what is ugly or beautiful in conduct.

Quite probably I rationalise in favour of my self-interest; but that includes considering others.

You see? A mess. But then life is complex, not to be reduced to an understanding expressible in words.

John Lavery, Evelyn Farquhar

4 thoughts on “My morality

    • I love it. It is a portrait. One might think you see so little of her: her face but not her hair under that expanse of hat and veil; her hands, one relaxed, one just tense enough to support her parasol handle. Then you infer her figure. Then there is that huge, swooping feather (?) in her hat, and that great expanse of soft, loose shining fabric, expressing her Self.


  1. I’m reminded of something I read, in the story of a reformed character, who had spent his life pretending. One day he thought, ‘Well, why should I not pretend to be honest?’ and so he did, and that was the start of his honest behaviour. We went back to a shop when he realised he had got back 50p too much in change. For his honesty he got a look from the shop-keeper which said, ‘Young man, I am so proud of you!’ and that was what started his different life.

    Morals are tricksy, of course, and we can only ever do our best. You do that, and much, much more.

    XXX 😀


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