Imprudence vs Morality

Discussion in 'Debate Corner' started by Calxiyn, Mar 8, 2018.

  1. Calxiyn Keyblade Master

    Joined:
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    In class, we went over a concept that has really changed my outlook on things, so I thought I’d bring it up

    We were discussing the idea that to achieve true freedom and liberty, the state should have no power in imposing their views on private life onto individuals. Meaning that the state should not try to regulate private behaviours, and instead only focus on activities that harm others instead of self harming activities. The idea being that morality or moral activities are activities that harm others, while imprudent activities are activities that harm yourself

    But this begs the question where the line is drawn between activities which are imprudent, and activities which are morally incorrect.

    The idea is that activities like murder are a moral issue because it is an activity that harms someone outside ones self.

    But activities such as drunkenness, not showering, doing drugs, those are self harming activities and so it is a matter about ones values when it comes to being imprudent, or ones opinion on what is prudent.

    To continue, there is an idea that say, if a police officer is drunk on duty he should not be punished for the drunkness, but rather neglecting his terms of contract. That if a parent is on drugs and neglect their children, they should be punished for being neglectful and not doing the drugs. Because these activities are at a base level self harming and do not harm anyone else until someone decides to do something morally wrong while preforming these self harming activities.

    For something like murder it is very black and white, but with concepts that seem to be in a grey area, where do we place them? Because the idea here is that morality is based on rational ideas, while prudence is about feelings and personal values.

    For example:

    Polygamy is not a moral issue but an issue of perceived imprudence by other groups or people, being gay is not a moral issue but an issue of perceived imprudence by other groups or people, and these groups of people should not be able to infringe on individual liberties.

    So now that I’ve explained that fully, we sort of got to a place in class where we were talking about the idea of being the “moral police” or trying to regulate private behaviours, how this works into politically correct cultural and stuff like that.


    So my question is, with this line of reasoning is that how can we decide the difference when people genuinely believe their issues of what they perceive as prudent or not are moral issues?

    I’ll use the example of being gay again because I’m gay and that’s what I’m comfortable with. For being gay to be morally wrong, the idea would have to be that it is not only a perceived self harming behaviour, but that it also harms other people. I don’t think it harms anyone (obviously) But some people genuinely believe that it harms the well being of the people around this person thus in their eyes making it morally wrong.

    So what do we do in cases like this? Is that where the majority just has to decide what is or isn’t a matter of prudence? Or is that when we find evidence to prove that it’s a matter of prudence and not morally? And how can you “prove” something is actually morally wrong if people feel like they are hurt by the action? Is this a case of people needing to “toughen up”, or do we listen to each case of where someone may feel like their individual liberty is being impacted by a behaviour and decide? But that goes back to who is responsible enough to decide these things and if there is a right or wrong answer.


    For my personal opinion, this whole idea may seem lacking in empathy, because you’re basically saying that you don’t care about other people unless it effects you. And I do think that we should leave people alone if they’re doing something that’s not hurting us, but does that mean we don’t care if they’re hurting themselves? Like the example in class used a lot was being drunk, and how that’s a self harming behaviour and so we or the state shouldn’t moderate that or try to control that. But what about being concerned for someone’s health and well being? Do we not interfere because it infringes on their individual liberty even if they’re sick and we want to help them get better?

    I know that’s a lot of questions but I’m up to talk about this more