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ETHICS & REALITY in Practice: Real People Talking Honestly Message Board › Conclusions From our Discussion of The Conscience Of Huckleberry Finn

Conclusions From our Discussion of The Conscience Of Huckleberry Finn

Richard M.
RichardMohley
Group Organizer
Portland, OR
Post #: 7
From our discussion, we came to the following conclusions:

The less you know, the more clear moral decisions seem. Or conversely,

the more confident a person is in his opinions about right vs. wrong, the less likely he is to have examined it and know what he talking about.

The author suggested by his "bad morality" theme, that the bad guy doing bad things may be actually operating out of his own set of principles. I agree and based on that...

I judged the most moral / least moral persons to be:

The Most Moral

Jonathan Edwards
– he never hurt anyone and he followed the moral code of this society as he understood it. What’s more, he even felt how he thought he should have felt. I don’t agree with it, but then I don’t live in that society.


The Middle Moral Ground

Henrich Himmler – He followed the moral code of his society as he understood it, even though it caused him anguish. Killing people is unacceptable to me personally, but he thought he wasn’t killing people. Just like the cow that provided the steak I ate while discussing the reading, I didn’t think it was killing people. The cow might disagree of course.


The Least Moral

Huck Finn – His philosophy was to do whatever was the most comfortable and least effort on his part. In this, he was on par with a cockroach. The fact that he came down on the right side by my moral code is just a matter of luck. It could have just as easily been morally offensive to me. The moral thinking formula he advocates is really dangerous.

Wilfred Owen offered some sound advice about moral decision making. In a word he advised, if you were there, you would think differently.


Our Conclusion:

1. We all start with the moral code of the society we are born into.
2. We should be willing to think about and change it for ourselves.
3. Then, let circumstances of individual cases decide each situation.
4. Finally, we cannot know if we are right or wrong.


Of course we could be wrong about all of this. The only way to know is to discuss it again.

But Wendy says

"I have concluded that the most moral person is Huck Finn and anyone else who does not have a strict moral code with which to interpret life's decisions. One grows as one is confronted with choices and one make them on the basis of what feels right at the moment. As I've said before, we cannot know if what we are deciding is the best for everyone involved, but it is the best we can do at the time. Thank goodness there have been people like the Freedom Riders and the Suffragettes whose moral code allows them to make the tough choices that sometimes puts their own lives on the line for what they feel is right.

A truly moral person does not, like Jonathan Edwards, try to inflict their own moral code, based on no real experience, upon others.

A truly moral person does not, like Heinrich Himmler, do what he does just because it is what society says is good. If what he does goes against his feelings of right and wrong, he is not acting morally.

As Wilfred Owen said, we can't know what we would do or say or feel in any given situation until we get there. And as we said last night, it seems we are always judging morality after the act. The truly moral person is the one who admits he doesn't know for certain what he would do and doesn't judge others by his own experience."
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