moralistic gold standard

A Moralistic Gold Standard

moralistic gold standard
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Our drive down to Bonnaroo was divided into multiple stops, the first of which was Pittsburg, PA. Each part of the drive was punctuated by listening to new music, epic sax man on loop, or various types of scintillating conversation. For this leg of the journey in particular, I ended up talking about morality and the possible existence of a moralistic gold standard with my friends Tim and Mike – Mike, by the way, also has a wonderful blog worth checking out.

Morality is always a difficult concept to discuss, since everyone automatically has a different reference point. Tim, for example, pointed to the fact that he believed strongly in a Nietzschean style of morality – essentially, there are no such universal truths such as good or bad. What really only exists is the overall pursuit of a personal happiness and meaning. Of course a vast number of people would take issue with this, and I am not entirely sure if even Tim would stick to this moralistic standard for the rest of his life; this realization lead the three of us to an interesting conversation.

People’s morality change over time, as they are exposed to new ideas and new experiences. I doubt anyone reading this views morality in the same way now than they did even a year ago. The mind constantly adapts to new experiences – to compensate for this, so too must our way of dealing with the world. This constant change and flux can lead to stressful

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situations for individuals. For example, if someone has a strict moral code and is unable to live up to it they may experience some painful cognitive dissonance – a feeling of psychological discomfort which occurs when someone’s actions don’t live up to their world view.

It is for this reason that I believe it would be best if people, instead of dealing in absolutes, chose to live their lives according to a moralistic gold standard. No matter what your moral code may be, you will always be put in situations that make it near impossible to live in complete compliance with your own standards. To compensate for this, people should instead realize that the world does not work in absolutes but in degrees.

Essentially, instead of having an uncompromising ethical standard for yourself set yourself a gold standard to shoot for, knowing full well that you may fail to live up to these goals. That’s fine! It is the aiming for perfection is what truly matters, not the actual achievement.

Morality should never be uncompromising – no matter which code of ethics you subscribe to. At the same time as having a moralistic gold standard, allow yourself to live with an open mind. You should be confident that your morality is correct and best fits you, but you should never shut yourself off from debate and new ideas.

Through discussion, who knows what new things you may learn? Not all ideas are inherently inimical to various belief systems, and with an open mind you may be able to combine various disparate standards into a more all-encompassing whole.


7 thoughts on “A Moralistic Gold Standard”

  1. I definitely like your idea of a gold standard that you don’t always have to live up to. We don’t always act congruently with our morality, and it’s much better to understand we did something wrong and try to do better next time than to beat ourselves up over it.

    That being said, I disagree that our aim is more important than our achievement when it comes to morality. If you do something immoral, it isn’t ok to just say that you have a high aim and explain it away. We are still responsible for our actions. While we might be able to excuse ourselves if we commit a crime of passion in order to continue living with ourselves, it doesn’t change the fact that it was immoral, and there should be consequences.

    1. Hmmm, that is a really good point about still making sure you are accountable for your actions. I did not mean it to such an extreme – obviously, in the end, you are fully responsible for what you do and shouldn’t be able to explain it away by just saying “Well, I was trying my best!” I guess that is still a problem, though, in that people could conceivably use the gold standard in such a way…

      Thanks for bringing that up, Mike!

      1. Very interesting. A lot of pepole think that David Chase was doing the same thing with the Sopranos, especially toward the end. Chase wanted to force the viewers to confront their fascination with the violence and evil of the Sopranos universe wanted to condemn the audience for loving the show.I actually had moral issues playing Colonization. Although there are four European powers, I only found two strategies that really worked. One was to play as the English, French, or (preferably) Dutch, and essentially industrialize/explore/trade. The other was to play as the Spanish and annihilate the natives for gold. I was never able to bring myself to pursue the Spanish strategy for very long, and in fact, I often went out of my way to stop the Spanish (by giving guns to the natives, picking fights with the Spanish, etc.).But then, the natives were really annoying, so sometimes I essentially used the Spanish to do my dirty work. The Spanish would slaughter the natives, and then I would conquer the Spanish. The end result was nice, open land with no pesky natives to attack my wagon trains. I didn’t do anything to make the Spanish slaughter the natives, but I let them do it and didn’t attack them until they had cleared a large swathe of territory.Sounds worse and worse the more I think about it.

        1. I used to play a lot of strategy games myself, so I know exactly where you are coming from. That is one of the things I always liked about strategy games – or RPGs, for that matter – they force you into making lots of hypothetical decisions. Even though you know that it doesn’t affect anyone in the real world, you still get that ethical dilemma of whether or not what you are doing is good. Thanks for sharing!

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