Morality

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Morality refers to the concept of human ethics which pertains to matters of good and evil — also referred to as "right or wrong". Morality is generally discussed within three contexts:

  1. matters of individual conscience;
  2. systems of principles and judgments — sometimes called moral values — shared within a cultural, religious, secular, humanist, or philosophical community; and
  3. codes of behavior or conduct.

Theistic morality is based on the assumption that there is a god who has absolute understanding of right and wrong, and orders people to obey rules as a condition for goodness, see Christian morality for an example. See also Divine Command as the Foundation of Morality

Secular morality is a complex subject and is discussed in a separate article.

Absolute and relative morality

Absolute morality postulates that was is moral and what is immoral is unchanging and can be laid down well in advance. Thus it is very popular with religions and their reliance on holy texts to determine moral and ethical guidelines and commandments. Moral relativism (which should under no circumstances be conflated with relativity) on the other hand postulates that morals can be somewhat flexible and develop as education and understanding progresses, and accepts the subjective nature of morality. This acknowledges that cultural differences across different times and different regions may mean that what people consider moral can change. This change, particularly over time, is sometimes known as the moral zeitgeist, from the German "spirit of the times". Hence once slavery was accepted in parts of the western world, it now is not - or at least it has been outsourced to poorer countries and prisons. Moral relativism isn't without criticism as it is viewed as lending justification to clearly immoral acts by effectively saying "well, they do things differently over there".

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