What is good moral character ?

  • April 15, 2013 · 7:00 PM
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Given the date is a number of weeks away, here is some suggested background meeting:

A summary in the history of philosophy on the question from the Greeks to the present day at the Stanford University encyclopaedia  of Philosophy project:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-character/

In parallel there is the new field called 'Moral Psychology' which looks at psychological evidence in terms of evaluating moral philosophical statements. Again here is nice summary:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-psych-emp/

 

Some questions to consider to guide the discussion. I have given my brief answers to these questions just as starting point.

 

1. What is your own personal definition of good moral character ?

My view the ideal in brevity is :Honesty, integrity, empathy, good judgement, and some sense of obligation to a higher good than mere self interest.

 

2. How do we develop good moral character ?

Can we cultivate our irrational subconscious in this direction or is this an illusory effort..

My view:  Rely on Cultural and Educational norms. In our multichannel universe, these norms can be lost in the noise.

 

3.What can we say about the relationship between the content of someone's metaphysical belief system and the 'goodness' of their moral character ?

-Can a Klu Klax Klan member have a good moral character ?

My view: there is weak but meaningful statistical correlation between moral character and the nature of someone's belief systems observed over a sufficient sample size.

 

4. Why develop on a personal level good moral character ?

Some sages, like Aristotle, argue that this is profound source for personal happiness.

 

Looking forward to the discussion.   James

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  • Peter

    Great job last night James! I liked the initial questions to organization things, plus your thoughtful input. Very interesting comments in general.

    Agreed David. Time factors don’t always allow for it, but preparation never fails to improve the quality of comments and learning.

    April 16, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Very good indeed. I think it helps when those attending have prepared for the discussion.

    April 15, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      yes, those that did showed good moral character, maybe next time I should then ... :)

      April 16, 2013

  • Alexandra

    Can't make this..... Too much work!

    April 15, 2013

  • louis

    Sorry I have to change my plan

    April 15, 2013

  • Robert ("Robaire") N.

    Regrets. Was looking forward to attending.

    April 13, 2013

  • Lorne H.

    I have a cold so I will be staying home.

    April 13, 2013

  • Shon Bryr M.

    Hello. Not sure I can make it out (as usual[I haven't been able to make it out for about a year to any of our Meet Ups]) but I'll try!

    April 10, 2013

  • Robert ("Robaire") N.

    I imagine there will be varying opinions of what "good moral character" is, or whether it exists at all, at the upcoming meetup.

    So to "kick" off the discussion, here is my take: We have lost our way when it comes to identifying good moral character. At least in Western liberal democracies like Canada, the U.S. & Europe, we have come to equate good moral character with Kantian notions of duty and obedience to law.

    But good moral character (or what Aristotle called "virtue" or aretai) is far more than that. The ancient Greeks (beginning with Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and the Stoics) and later the Roman moralists (Cicero, Marcus Aurelius, etc.) had a far better grasp of virtue than we do.

    Virtue is not the same as doing what is right in any particular circumstance; it is doing what is right as a natural response or inclination of character, motivated by moral considerations outside self-interest. In short, it is doing what is right even when no one is watching.

    Robaire

    1 · February 20, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      I disagree that we have lost our way... a quick look at the other "cultures of the world" doesn't fill me with I wish we were like that view (gypsum in milk, slave labour for textiles, dictators, rampant rape, rampant violence to women, etc. As well I don't see the moral character as a law or duty thingy, never even crossed my mind that that was possibly the case.. maybe that depends on the circle of folks one lives with. As to doing what is right when no one is watching is in my mind just one particular sub-case of doing what is right in any particular circumstance (aka no one watching is a circumstance). I agree that our media sure doesn't paint a picture of moral character in its role models, but then the media is now sensationalist... so I suspect the question becomes are we what our media is...

      February 21, 2013

  • Dr S. Ranga S.

    moral character is the attribute and the inclination to think, act and behave in a manner that is respectful and thoughtful of the true well being of all concerned in a situation and circumstance.

    February 21, 2013

  • Dr S. Ranga S.

    I will come if I am in town. Thanks very much.

    ranga

    February 20, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    What a great topic!

    February 7, 2013

  • Dr S. Ranga S.

    Thanks

    ranga

    February 6, 2013

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