Designing and Discovering a Moral Code

This is not a rant about how “atheists have morals, too!”

This is me figuring out how this whole morality thing works. It’s always been easy to be good in life because life has been good to me. I believe I’ve helped more people than I’ve hurt, and I am quicker to love than I am to hate. If morality were as objective as we all hope it is, I would say I’m a pretty moral person.

Recently, I’ve found myself in positions where I can be selfish to the deep detriment of others. I have had to make choices that look out for myself but find consideration for others, and they’ve been difficult to navigate. I believe happiness and goodness lie somewhere in this mix of selflessness and selfishness. I don’t believe one or the other is an ultimate virtue. I believe they are best employed in tandem. The measurement is not set, and we keep adding both, tasting the concoction until it makes that perfect choicetini. I want to help as many other bodies as I can when I help my own.

I don’t want anyone to lose when I win, but I think that’s going to happen sometimes. I think you just have to make sure that the loss is not so deep as to make another person’s situation irredeemable. Don’t destroy things unless those things are destroying others.


4 Comments on “Designing and Discovering a Moral Code”

  1. For me, morality is always subjective and always context sensitive.
    It is not only a matter of harm done, but bridges burned. At times we cause harm and burn bridges when personal ethics are in the mix. Other times we choose sacrifice. It all depends on the weight we personally assign to the outcomes possible.

    It is however always our own choice. That doesn’t mean that you won’t make the choices that lead you the same way as some proclaimed objective morality. As a mechanical atheist my choices are made by weighing the value of the outcomes from my possible options. When I make a choice to do the right thing it is because I think it’s the right thing, not because other people do or that I’m told it is. What’s really funny, everyone else does too. As it turns out we human apes tend to think the same ways, have empathy for the same situations, and care for the underdog/frail/weak/young in the same ways. It seems almost genetic. Oops, did I say that? :)

    Just 2 cents worth

  2. Nelson says:

    What is an example of you doing something to the deep detriment of others (even a fictitious example?) I don’t think zero sum game examples mean you are selfish. For example, getting a promotion at work. You and I are competing for a promotion. You win (I must therefore lose). You are not being selfish when you win. Even though your win means I must lose. I took my chance and if I can’t stand the heat, I should get out of the kitchen. I just don’t think all situations where you gain and others lose must constitute selfishness on your part. I’m not trying to be argumentative, just discussing one point of view.
    Also as a new atheist, I’ve always wondered where morality comes from. Did it come about as a result of humans learning to work together and live in more and more complex social structures or however otherwise….

    • Kate says:

      I wrote much more extensively about my ideas on morality back when I first deconverted, but that’s all lost and probably outdated with respect to where I am in my process now. This post was just a smattering of thoughts. I’m specifically thinking about the fact that I might straight up leave my company to where they can’t sustain some of its services without me and can’t afford a comparable replacement. It would work out for me but occur to their detriment. So, I’m struggling with how I can make sure things are set up as much as possible so that they won’t be hurt by my departure without having to prolong my stay too much. Does that sort of qualify? It’s possible I’m blowing it out of proportion, of course.

      “Blasphemy” is my only category. :) Almost everything goes in there. I know, not the “right” use of categories, but it’s just a silly blog.

  3. Nelson says:

    “FIled under: blasphemy” – oh i wanted to state that I find that hilarious.

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