HOME   People do good because they are human, not because they are religious! 

Do not give God any credit for the good they do, they did it!

 

Moral Neutrality - how some acts and thoughts and deeds undone are actually as bad as they are good
 

MAIN POINTS:

 

A MORALLY NEUTRAL ACT IS ONE WHERE YOU ACT BUT SEE NO REASON TO AFFIRM THE ACT AS GOOD OR BAD BUT AS BOTH.  AN EVIL OR GOOD ACT CAN BE MISTAKEN FOR A MORALLY NEUTRAL ONE.

 

AMORAL IS ABOUT WHEN AN ACT HAS NO RELEVANCE TO MORALITY OR ACTUALLY DOES NOT CARE ABOUT THE EXISTENCE OF MORALITY.

 

THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE IN PRACTICE BETWEEN AN ACT BEING MORALLY NEUTRAL OR AMORAL.

 

AN ACT CAN BE NEITHER GOOD OR BAD OR YOU CAN SAY IT IS BOTH.  IT DOES NOT MATTER.  THE ACT WOULD BE MORALLY NEUTRAL.  NOTHING NOT EVEN GOD CAN DO ANYTHING ABOUT THE FACT THAT GOOD AND EVIL ARE INVOLVED IN EVERYTHING.  EVEN IF AN ACT IS NEITHER GOOD OR EVIL IT IS ALSO BOTH GOOD AND EVIL.  GOOD AND EVIL ARE BRUTE FACTS.

 

NOT ACTING IS AN ACTION IS A SENSE.  THIS FACT MAKES MORAL NEUTRALITY EVEN MORE COMPLICATED.

 

EVIL AND GOOD ARE OFTEN MIXED OR HARD TO TELL APART SO WHAT YOU JUDGE AS EVIL COULD IN FACT BE MORALLY NEUTRAL.

 

YOU CAN INTEND AN ACT TO BE MORALLY NEUTRAL WHEN IT IS NOT.  OR YOU CAN INTEND AN ACT TO BE MORALLY BAD OR GOOD WHEN IN FACT IT IS NEUTRAL.

 

THE MORE COMPLEX LIFE BECOMES THE HARDER IT IS TO SORT OUT THE MORALLY NEUTRAL FROM THE MORAL OR IMMORAL.

 

MORAL NEUTRALITY IS IGNORED BY RELIGION WHEN IT PREACHES BUT IT IS FULLY AWARE OF IT AND PROBABLY USES IT TO JUSTIFY THE HARM IT DOES.  YET YOU CANNOT TRULY CARE ABOUT GOOD AND EVIL IN PRINCIPLE UNLESS YOU RECOGNISE IT.  BUT THAT PRINCIPLE IS HIGHLY SUSCEPTIBLE TO MISUSE.

 

MORAL NEUTRALITY DESTROYS MORALITY IN PRACTICE BECAUSE YOU CANNOT PROVE A PERSON DIDN'T SEE AN EVIL ACT AS A MORALLY NEUTRAL ONE AND SO THEY CAN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THAT.

 

THE TENDENCY TO BEING MISUSED MEANS THAT PEOPLE WILL FEAR THOSE WHO SPEAK OUT MORAL NEUTRALITY AND WHO AIM FOR IT.

 

THESE QUESTIONS SHOW THAT IF YOU WANT GOD OR RELIGION SO THAT YOU MAY SANCTION MORALITY AS WE DO IT IT WILL NOT WORK.  THEY MAY LEAD TO BULLYING BUT THEY CANNOT LEAD TO A PROPER MORALITY.

 

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what is moral neutrality?


Many actions condemned as wrong are really morally neutral. If consequences matter at all there have to be events and deeds and actions that are good and also fall short of good just as much. Its an equal balance.
 
Is a morally neutral action unimportant morally? Is it empty of any moral or ethical significance? Yes. Anything depending on the circumstances can become as good as it is bad.

 

Anything can be good and bad to the degree that you have to assume that even if you are wrong you can do it and assume it is morally neutral.  You cannot be always sure if it is best or not so you would be entitled to assume it is morally neutral. 

 

It is the case that those who claim to be doing the moral thing are often lying and actually are doing what they know or think is morally neutral.

 

Intention
 
There are acts that are either good or not so good. If we mistake them for neither then we intend to be morally neutral.  So there is a difference between something being intended to be morally neutral or morally neutral.

 

Can you be said to have done wrong even when an action is morally neutral? It depends on your motive. That is why we must never judge anybody without hearing their explanation first. You can never know how much harm a person intended by a harmful act. Often they fail to understand the amount of pain that results.  If they do not understand that well how can we understand even as much as them.

 

the ethical systems and moral neutrality
 
It is amazing that most people do not seem to be conscious of the fact that there is not just good and evil but also what is neither or a balanced mixture of both: neutrality. Religion loves to encourage the illusion that righteousness is just black and white with no shades of grey to instil guilt and use “morality” to get what it wants from people.

A moral philosophy can gave too much grey or too little or strike the right balance.

When the Utilitarian cannot prove that anything they do is good, they should be more honest and play safe and claim to look to maintain neutrality and not goodness.

Deontological (another word for absolutist, meaning an ethic comprising rules that must never be broken even to save the world) ethics must admit that neutrality exists when it seeks to be relevant and applicable to different situations. Different situations infer that some of the ways of responding to them must be neutral. But there must be times it is impossible to know when these occur. It is hard enough to distinguish between right and wrong without the added conundrum of neutrality.

 

Also, it is harder to know if some action is really neutral than if it is good or bad.

 

Absolutist ethics urge you to blow up the world accidently if you can (this is hypothetical silly!) rather than have sex outside of marriage.  An ethic like that sounds more like a pile of moral neutrality than an ethic!!!

 

Apart from people who believe you should never take precautions, a legalist always has to consider some consequences in some things to create their own iron rules. They can believe in neutrality for they only invent their morals anyway.

 

Intention

 

You see an action and you are to assess if it is good or bad or neither. It is worse to assume an evil act is actually morally neutral than to assume a good act is morally neutral.  It is safer to see life-saving as morally neutral than to see murder as morally neutral.  The reason is seeing murder as morally neutral risks killing more people than failing to save lives would.  And there is still an intention to kill.


If you can do something dreadful with the best of intentions then should you assume the intention and the horrors are balanced against each other? Does that make the action morally neutral?  Intention is always put before any results.  Thus it does not make sense to say that murdering with a good intention - eg to get organs to save a baby's life - is evil.  You would have to say the intention being so important and having to be considered in evaluating the act makes it morally neutral.

 

judgement

 

Moral neutrality needs to be emphasised and can help make the world less judgemental.
 
When an act can be morally neutral it is wrong to mean it to be good for that is illogical. I have to intend it to be what it is.  I cannot turn what I see is a morally neutral action into a good act or a bad one.

 

People don't like to think about moral neutrality because they feel it indicates the following: "Okay somebody does what is generally considered bad. Judging and resenting isn't going to fix anything. It's done. Do all you can to prevent yourselves judging BEFORE any crime or wrong is committed.  Who are you to judge that something that seems to be immoral really is immoral?  You cannot know the full story."

 

Charity bids people to decide that when a person does what they would consider wrong that it is really something neutral they are doing or meaning to do.  But nobody will do that!  Even religion which forbids judging will judge those people!!

 

If I have a choice between a neutral act and one that is good and do the neutral act I have done wrong for I have refused to do the good which was the best act.  It is not really a neutral act when there is a good alternative.

 

What if a person is doing something that could look neutral or good?  Some people likes people to avoid judging and instead believe that the person is not trying to be neutral but to be good.  That is too strong.   If it could look neutral or good it could be bad too!  Neutral means an act can look bad or good.  That is why it is neutral for neutral means it could be both good and bad.

 

If judging is wrong for we cannot read the minds of others then it is better to call a possibly bad act neutral.  If we cannot call it bad then we certainly cannot call it good!  When a man in what he says is a dire need steals a loaf of bread the Church says that this is good. It would be better to say it is not good but neutral. The fears the Church has of moral neutrality are silly when the Church could use it to avoid calling such acts good.  The hypocrisy of the Church is outrageous.

 

practical concerns

 

Take abortion.  If it is taking an innocent human life then what about the mother's right to not let her body be used to keep a baby alive that she does not want?  The right to life is no good without a right to decide for your own body.  Abortion then in this light would seem to be as bad as it is good and thus not a moral matter.  It is obvious you have the right to disconnect your body even from a friend even if he needs to stay connected to stay alive when you didn't promise to keep him alive.  Even if it is for a week you still have the right to cut off the life support.  Abortion is defined as the direct killing of a baby in the womb.  But if the intention is to cut off life support then what other way can it be done?  This is a case where the killing is the cutting off and thus it cannot be murder.

 

How can love be bad?  Many ask that especially in relation to LGBT relationships.  Not all love is good. Some love is neutral and some love is bad.  Love when it risks the lover dying for the loved one is a balance between evil and good.  It is not good for the lover.  All love may be morally neutral.  It cannot be proved that any love is more good than bad so we have to assume its neutral.


finally

Approving is a default. You either approve or disapprove. But you can do both which is the same thing as doing neither. It can be luck if your approving is of the right things. Or it can be wisdom.  The subject of moral neutrality is extremely important.  Get it wrong and the morality you formulate ends up like a dog's dinner.  And any religion or God belief that grows up around that morality is then mere glorified superstition.
 
BOOKS CONSULTED 
 
A HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY, VOL 6, PART II, KANT, Frederick Copleston SJ, Doubleday/Image, New York, 1964
CHRISTIANITY FOR THE TOUGH-MINDED, Ed John Warwick Montgomery, Bethany Fellowship Inc, Minneapolis, 1973
ETHICS, A C Ewing, Teach Yourself Books, English Universities Press Ltd, London, 1964
ETHICS IN A PERMISSIVE SOCIETY, William Barclay, Collins and Fontana, Glasgow, 1971
FREE TO DO RIGHT, David Field, IVP, London, 1973
MORAL PHILOSOPHY, Joseph Rickaby SJ, Stonyhurst Philosophy Series, Longmans, Green and Co, London, 1912
MORALITY, Bernard Williams, Pelican/Penguin, Middlesex, 1972
MORTAL QUESTIONS Thomas Nagel, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, London, 1979
NEW CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA, The Catholic University of America and the McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., Washington, District of Columbia, 1967
PRACTICAL ETHICS, Peter Singer, Cambridge University Press, England, 1994
RUNAWAY WORLD, Michael Green, IVP, London, 1974
SITUATION ETHICS, Joseph Fletcher, SCM Press, London, 1966
SUMMA THEOLOGICA OF ST THOMAS AQUINAS, Part II, Second Number, Thomas Baker, London, 1918
THE PROBLEM OF RIGHT CONDUCT, Peter Green MA, Longmans Green and Co, London, 1957

The WEB

Roman Catholic Ethics: Three Approaches by Brian Berry
www.mcgill.pvt.k12.al.us/jerryd/ligouri/berry.htm