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'It pays to be moral.' Discuss. (30)

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'It pays to be moral.' Discuss. (30) Whether or not it pays to be moral is something that has been discussed and debated for a long time - some argue that it pays to be moral as it enables you and others to flourish however others argue that being moral is useless. In Plato's Republic, one character, Thrasymachus, claims that justice (morality) is simply 'the interests of the stronger'. In other words, our morals have been imposed on us by those who have the power throughout history to control our moral beliefs. Because of this it could be said that morals lack legitimacy, as in reality they are simply the values that the strongest (who imposed the morals) desire. As an example, Marx believes that the middle class promote individual freedom (to own property) because they are able to exploit the benefits whereas the poor would prefer less freedom and more support. So, if morality reflects both social and cultural bias, why should we be moral? There are different theories. Egoists believe that we should act morally and it pays to do so because it is in our own self-interest. As part of our self-interest, we may need to make a contract with others; so acting morally is justified by the contract that we have made and agreed to. ...read more.


condition we was living in that preceded authority and the rights/obligations of the social contract. The social contract is a tacit agreement between individuals and their elected government, made by a process of mutual consent. It is a metaphorical contract made where everyone agrees to abide by rules and accept duties to protect themselves and one another from violence, harm, etc. Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Rawls all have different ideas on what the world was like in the State of Nature and how it is once the social contract has been introduced, however both Locke and Rousseau share quite a similar theory so I will illustrate what they think in detail in order to illustrate why it may pay to be moral. Locke and Rousseau both believe that the State of Nature, the natural condition of mankind, is 'a state of perfect and complete liberty to conduct conduct one's life as one best sees fit, free from the interference of others'. This however does not mean that it is a state of license: one is not free to do anything at all, or even anything that is judged to be in one's self-interest. Although in the State of Nature there is no civil or authority or government to punish people, it is not a state without morality - it is pre-political but not pre-moral. ...read more.


We do also not necessarily have to sign into a social contract in order to be moral, for instance, we obey moral rules when it comes to caring for both young children and animals even though we can not enter into a reciprocal relationship with them as they can not agree to the social contract. It is also worth considering the nature of altruism, if morality is entirely based upon a form of egoism, then this leaves no room for helping others because it is the right thing to do. Egoism claims that it may and may not benefit us to act moral - not because it is best to pursue our self-interests for our own personal gain, however it may benefit us because it will make us feel good. There are both arguments for and against whether it pays to be moral, however being moral seems like the best thing to do - you can still benefit from doing so without the risk of being punished for breaking the laws of the social contract or without the risk of even being killed within the State of Nature due to property, it is in our self-interest to act morally because it is mutually beneficial for everyone. ...read more.

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