Do we have any moral obligations? What are they?

I have to write a 6 page paper on our moral obligations to those who are suffering, but I'm not sure that we are obligated to do so.


I'm actually thinking about using this to describe the basis for morality and then explicating on how a society can punish aberrant acts for the good of the whole. Does that seem like a decent idea to y'all?


Most Helpful Girl

  • This is heavy-duty and in some ways it’s a trick question or a tricka and it also depends whether this thesis is written as part of a psychology course or a sociology course or a philosophy course – you get the picture. Here’s why – – sociology says that morality is internal and it is up to one’s self to decide his own morals. You are not obligated to any moral obligation unless you choose to do so because morals are your own. Very close to morality is what sociology calls, “ethics.” Ethics are a collection of principles that society has deemed appropriate. Even if you have no qualms about killing someone (you see no moral difficulty killing someone if you believe that they deserve to die – they shot your friends father). You may be put in prison or even sentenced to death because ethically in your society, killing is wrong.
    The conclusion in your case is that you have no moral obligation because you choose to have no moral obligation because that’s how I moral obligation is an individual personal decision. What I just wrote can get you in or out of trouble when making a final statement to whatever conclusions you desire. Example, you may believe that you have no moral obligation to help the sick but the society in which we live has decided that ethically your society as a whole has a moral obligation to do so. Therefore they assess your home on its value and you pay let’s say 2% of that in taxes which is used to build a hospital pay doctors and pay nurses at a public facility. This is not your morality it is collectively your society’s morality. Just remember to mumble very loudly – that’s not my morality you are forcing the ethics of this society upon me. By separating ethics and morality you can use a backdoor approach to justify whatever position you choose to take.

    • Thank you for your post! If you have a minute please look at my mytake and see if you think it'll be a good start to this paper.

      I think I need to state my view that morality is a part of our biosocial evolution, and then I will talk about how an individual does not have an obligation, except in that they are members of a society. As members of a society we must act in prosocial ways or else we will be punished (for our detriment to that society)

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    • I appreciate your candor. This is in reference to the scientific research on the subject (which is why I quoted the other authors).

      You say that I gave no evidence for the biosocial processes. I thought that by covering the neural regions associated with "morality." Then I stated that when these areas are damaged we see antisocial behavior. What more do you think I need to explain with that portion?

      Please clarify what you mean by, "your main thesis is that it does not apply." I am saying that we are not "obligated" to act morally except that as members of a social species we have to act in a manner that promotes that society. That wasn't even being referenced in the mytake that I wrote... So I'm just a little confused.

      I appreciate your help! I'm trying to work on the paper still so please let me know!

    • Also, I see now what you mean by ethics vs morality. I was struggling with understanding your point there, but that was why I gave the operational definition of morality in the paper. (And the mytake)

Most Helpful Guy

  • It seems philosophically you subscribe to Negative Rights over Positive Rights. Negative rights are for example if you see someone drowning you aren't obligated to save that person who is drowning even if you're able to. Positive rights would make you morally obligated to rescue a person if you are capable or it's within your means to do. In fact it could be a crime not to help. Most of the US constitution deals with negative rights with a few exceptions. Having the right to an attorney is one of those positive rights examples.

    You can explain that from a philosophical point of view and why you value one over the other. How kindness should be optional and not mandatory. You can explain why you think that's a morally superior viewpoint in your opinion and its effect on society.

    • Thanks! Issue is I think you should be punished if you don't but I don't see how to argue that an individual has an obligation to help others. Except for the benefit of society which I will make my argument. I do think however that if morality is mandatory then it is pointless to say that a person is moral.

    • You're welcome! That's true. Morals would have less meaning if they were enforced.

    • Also, if you have a minute please read my mytake and let me know your thoughts. I plan on starting with that to show my belief of morality as a biosocial construct, and then explicating on society's role as enforcer of prosocial norms.

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What Girls Said 0

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What Guys Said 3

  • If you see someone dying in the street you probably are required to call 911.

    If you see someone who is struggling with something that you are fully capable of helping with you are required to help.

    If you see someone in distress and are able to aid them in a manner that is sound you are required to help.

    That's more than enough right there.

    • I appreciate that sentiment, and I agree with that case, BUT how and why are we obligated to do so? I agree that helping minimize harm would be a moral act, but I have no idea how to argue that one is required to act morally.

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    • Well I appreciate it! I will look forward to your response!

    • No problem.

  • According to Nietzsche "morality isnused by the herds of humanity to holp back any Superman from emerging, out of fear" I always based my papers on Nietzsche's works and alwaysngot A's

    • Interesting, I do love Nietzsche

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    • In his book beyond good and evil. It's not a direct quote just a paraphrase. Just google Nietzsche morality or ubermensh

    • Oh ok lol. That he is, and the rest of us are just plebians

  • Then make that your thesis statement. What support do you have showing we have no obligations?

    • That's not how it works. I'm not making a positive claim that there are no moral obligations, I am questioning the rationale behind saying that we are obligated to act morally. The burden of proof would be on the affirmative.

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    • I appreciate that! My issue is that I do in fact think we have an obligation to help others, but cannot think of how to argue that point. Therefor, my argument is that as members of a social species we must act in a manner that benefits that society.

    • You 2 are getting into a great argument you're talking at each other. I come back to the fact that morals are one's own and you are speaking of ethics of society. You must distinguish that and stop talking of morality as something that is inherent in society. It is not. And you don't get punished for not being moral you get punished for not being ethical as society has determined. You have no moral obligation to help anybody but yourself. By not defining each point right away your allowing this paper to drift off into eternity and I identify with the other person statement you are trying to solve all the worlds problems in 6 pages. Define your terms and keep the entire paper simplistic for your ideas don't fit on 6 pages but rather a PhD thesis

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