What is your moral compass?

Discussion in 'Discussion' started by Makaze, Oct 24, 2014.

  1. Makaze Some kind of mercenary

    Jan 22, 2011
    The Matinée
    People decide their values based on a set of basic principles. Those principles make up their moral compass. Your moral compass tells you what to do when you are asked about a scenario you have not heard before. They are the groundwork that complex moral stances are based on.

    Without any further ado,
    • What basic principles do you use to decide how moral something is? Do they have a system?
    • How did you come to have this compass? (What made you choose those principles over others? How has your compass changed over time?)
    • How well does your compass serve you (in society, in your personal life, etc.)?
  2. Spike H E R O

    May 12, 2007
    Some pub in Montreal
    I determine morality by how it affects the community, the repercussions, and to what extent they are reversible. The more thoughtful, dutiful, orderly, and selfless you are, the further you go into the 'good' zone. If you're selfish, apathetic, and chaotic, then that puts you closer to the 'bad' zone. It seems like a very simple system at first, but it gets complicated.

    For example, I consider myself to be near the neutral zone. I can say that because despite the fact that my goals are always self-oriented, the last thing I want is for others to be affected negatively by my choices because I hate feeling the guilt for being responsible for another person's misery. For example: I actively avoid forming close relationships because of how it would affect my own freedom, but at the same time, I'd feel guilty if someone tried to reach out to me and I just blew them off without a reason that's not "I got better things to do". With that in mind, are my friends just people that I humor so I don't hurt anyone, or do I really want to get to know these people but care too much about my self-image and my independence to really invest in those kinds of bonds? It's probably the latter because befriending someone out of pity is a low that even I draw the line on as I can say with certainty that I'm considerate of the feelings of others and they are a major factor in my decision-making process because I'm not a sociopath. However, my needs usually take a priority unless a compromise or a win-win circumstance is possible. If it's not, I look into the repercussions and decide which choice would lead to a mutually beneficial result in the long-run.

    However, I also have to factor in intentions. You can do good things for the wrong reasons, and that's often the case with me, hence why I'm only 'near' the neutral zone- slightly leaning towards 'bad'. It doesn't matter how I justify my actions because ultimately I'm a self-centered person whose main priority is his own satisfaction, but I can still live with myself despite that. The key is not to dwell on the details and find comfort in the fact that at the very least my decisions made the day easier to enjoy for everyone. The fact that I'm able to do so is what pulls me to the gray area, and I'm content with being there.

    Asking how well it serves me personally, I'd tell you it serves me well enough I need harmony in my environment and the freedom to enjoy it. Harmony is all about how well the cogs click together and whenever something's out of place I have the willingness and incentive to approach the problem and work on it until I find a way where everyone benefits in the end. I'll admit that my love-life's a complicated issue but that has more to do with how I fit into the system as an individual and less about the system itself. You can't please everyone and you shouldn't have to if it conflicts with your personal ideals.

    And that's all I have to say about that.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2014
  3. al215 Kingdom Keeper

    May 29, 2013
    • What basic principles do you use to decide how moral something is? Do they have a system?
    I try to measure my actions in terms of what potential effects they will have on others and combine that with the situation at hand. This is something I'm going to find quite hard to explain, so if this rambles a little I'm sorry, but it's because I have no idea how to describe it.

    For the most part it's situational. I have a basic set of things (I don't know what to call them) that I refer to when decision making.
    1: Will this action harm others now?
    2: Will this action cause harm later?
    3: What effects will this have on myself?
    4: Is this action illegal?
    5: Is the action right/wrong?
    6: Is it worth it?

    Now, defining right and wrong is one of the things that has to be done here. For me, the principle of right and wrong is measured on potential harm and potential benefits, but it also has a basis in law. The way I see it, law exists because it is what is commonly acknowledged to be the best for society. I tend to follow the law of wherever I'm living, which in this instance would the UK. I find most of the UK law to be fine, although there is stuff I disagree with on certain issues and this is where the whole law basis falls apart as there are some points of it I simply disagree with, yet the way I've been brought up and my own logic would lead me to believe that breaking the law is wrong so going against it is for me, almost totally impossible.

    Outside of situations with legal impact, I look and the perceived rightness and wrongness of a situation which as I've said, works in potential harm and benefits. If by one action I'm likely to cause harm to someone, then I'd try and do what I can to avoid said action occurring to avoid harm to them and indeed, myself. That said, points 1 & 2 about harm on other people usually trump point 3, effects on myself. I don't mind if something harms me if it will make a reasonable amount of difference to someone else. Now, the catch there is, would I value that person enough to make that action. For the most part, I think the answer would be yes and only people who I didn't like would have the answer be no, and even then I believe that would have to be to a sufficient degree. To me, it seems abhorrent to leave someone out in the dust as it were. For the most part, it is worth while (point 6)

    There's another point to it but I can't figure out quite how to explain it in short, so I'll explain it in form of an example.

    I don't like Shark Fin Soup. It seems totally wrong to me. I'm quite happy eating animals throw me anything and I'll eat it. Chicken, Beef, Lamb, Pork, Crocodile (I have eaten this), whatever it is, I'll eat it because I have confidence that the life wasn't wasted. That's why I don't like Shark Fin Soup. I've never eaten it, because it feels wrong. The way they cut off the fins and then chuck the animal back in the ocean to die is just a waste of life and wrong because of it. If they had used the rest of the animal then it would be fine for me, because I wouldn't find any sort of issue with it, but the inherent waste of a life puts me right off. As curious as I am, I simply refuse to find out based on that. If that was ever corrected, I'd change my mind but until that day I'm staying well away from it.

    If I can look at those 6 points, then I will come to a decision on the moral rightness/wrongness of something.
    • How did you come to have this compass? (What made you choose those principles over others? How has your compass changed over time?)
    I guess most of my compass came from my parents. They gave me a fairly good sense of right and wrong which I think helped a lot, and then over time I encountered more and more things I disagreed with and also agreed with so it built up from there. I feel like one of the things that actually helped develop my compass was video games amusingly enough. I was always playing games when I was younger (Still am) and some of them helped me build up choices. The one that I think strikes me the most is the old early 2000s RPG Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. You gained Light Side and Dark Side points based on your actions, which sort of helped guide me in terms of what was right in a situation, because I knew from seeing the movies IV, V and VI fairly early on what the Jedi stood for- Justice and Rightness. It sounds ridiculous, basing a moral compass off Star Wars, but that's what I think helped shape me because it was something I always loved, and I always wanted to be a Jedi as a child so naturally, I'd follow them. Playing KOTOR actually helped in a way, because it showed me how to follow that path by measuring my choices in terms of Light and Dark telling me what each choice meant. Behind all the waving around a Lightsaber, there was plenty there. When KOTOR II came out, it presented the issues of Light and Dark again, this time pointing out a lot of the grey areas in it and showing me a deeper picture of it, as that was one of the main things that the game did differently to any other portrayal of SW that I had seen up to that point. That got me looking deeper in, and really showed me how to examine what an action did. The scene that did the most for me was Nar Shaddaa when you could choose to give money to a beggar- Once you've made your choice to give or not, then Kreia talks to you while you watch the effects of your choice. Had you given him the money, he'd be robbed and if you didn't, he'd sink into despair and cry. While this is a rather cynical view of events and also how Kreia herself was cynical too, it just showed me how to think things through. I think that was what brought me to think of point 2.
    • How well does your compass serve you (in society, in your personal life, etc.)?
    I like to think that my moral compass serves me fairly well in society. I'm not the most popular guy, but within the circle of people I converse with I think it helps because it means that I can be seen as someone who can help. While that is somewhat selfish, wanting to be seen as something I feel like it balances out with the fact that it stems from a genuine desire to help and it's always saddening when someone either refuses or ignores my offer for assistance, because at the end of the day the way I see it there are very few people, if any, who deserve to suffer. I've never met a single person who that could apply to as far as I know.

    Within personal life, I think it's highly important because that is what enables me to be there for people that matter to me which I will always strive to do. If someone needs me, if I can, I'll be there. The way I see things, there's a lot of things that are wrong with this world and if I can balance that by doing just one thing right, no matter how small, that's worth it to me- Even if it requires a little personal sacrifice.
  4. Patman Bof

    Oct 19, 2010
    For each scenario there is a set of possible actions. Each has its own outcome, the best decision is the one leading to the best outcome.
    But then of course the trick is to define "best". We all strive to live a happy life. We pursue things that make us happy and avoid things that do not. We act morally when the happiness of others make us happy. It' s the contract that makes living in society useful to begin with.

    Treat others as you would like them to treat you. Most kids quickly find that out through social games. They see what happens when they blatantly cheat. I have two parents, two sisters and got sent to school, interacting with others naturally molded my behavior. Around age 10 my parents sent me to catechism. Although I never truly bought the idea of a God it molded my morality more than I ever realized it myself. When I joined this forum a few Christians threw their misconceptions on atheists at me (atheists have no morals etc ...). That was a first for me, it prompted me to introspection. I started watching a lot of vids on that topic on youtube. Shows like the Atheist Experience. That' s what made me realize how much nonsensical Christian tenets I had internalized and why they were nonsensical. Good riddance.

    Unfortunately, predicting the outcome of each set of actions isn' t exactly a hard science. More like a trial and error thing. My morality is a work in progress. Besides, I don' t always have the time to give it that much thought, not to mention my emotions don' t give a flying **** about logic. I have no mortal enemy and no criminal record, so I guess I' m not doing too bad ?
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2014
  5. mindy lover Destiny Islands Resident

    Jun 18, 2014
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    Personally I just always ask myself if I ever have kids is them knowing abut this something I am willing to tell them. I also ask myself if I would do this if someone I loved was round, if the answer is no, then I just don't do it. Also, I often ask myself if I would want someone I love to be around someone that did something I was thinking of doing. I ask myself if the action is worth the consequences, but many ppl r more impulsive and don't think everything out. My moral compass is based on a treat others how u want to be treated thing. I also do that, would u want to be a round a person that did this or that thing too.
  6. Splodge Twilight Town Denizen

    Dec 30, 2012
    The Second Dimension
    What basic principles do you use to decide how moral something is? Do they have a system?

    This is a bit of a tough one to answer, but I'll give it a got regardless. There is a theory in psychology that I like to believe in, that I have forgotten the name of, but bare with me. It says something along the lines of, "happiness equals morality", and at first this seems completely subjective and a bad choice of moral compass. Let me explain. Who is going to be the happier person, the person who accepts gays, or the person who doesn't? To hate something requires effort, and hating something leads to bad emotions, that are the exact opposite of happiness. Now someone may say that if a person is a psychopath, or if a person has antisocial personality disorder they will act in the complete opposite of what I have just described. These people have NO moral compass, and no matter what it is, it isn't going to stop them doing the "wrong" thing. This line of thought may lead to more selfish decisions then some other compasses, but personally, I would prefer to live that way. Not that I don't care how my actions affect others, but if I am offered two outcomes involving myself and another that don't affect anyone, and in each case one party gains happiness, whilst the other doesn't, I would always pick myself.

    Treating others will love and respect if very important, but I live a very individualistic life, where my well being is placed above everybody else, not matter who they are. Because of this, it is an influence of my beliefs that if you're not happy, there's no point in living. Dark, yes, but what I believe. I treat others better because it stops me worrying about how they are affected. I do it for myself, not for them, and that helps to illustrate my above point somewhat. I try to make others feel better because it makes me feel better further down the road. This is also how I expect people to treat others as well, and despite that you may think it leads to a much darker world. I don't belief it does, because I believe that with this mindset everyone is at the happiest a situation can give them. It doesn't matter where your happiness comes from, as long as it's done, I believe that would lead to a happier world.

    There's another point that I'd like to add, and it's all about selflessness versus selfishness. Let's call selflessness side "A", and selfishness side "B". Most people would say they aspire to fit within the "A" side, with only a few saying they would like to fit in with side "B". Personally though, I think that it's more important to find a balance between the two. I have this belief for everything too, and that's that extremism never leads to good results, no matter the intended outcome is. As an example, let's use Hitler and Stalin, each represent one side of the political spectrum of "left" and "right", both extremists, and both extremely bad people who committed horrible acts of genocide. Each did so out of the good of their own people, and their extremism was their fault. They were too stalwart in their beliefs, and couldn't take any advice from the opposing side, nay, any other side but their own. Despite this most people would consider "left" to be better then "right". This applies to selflessness and selfishness too I believe. You need to find a balance between keeping yourself happy, and others happy. Despite this, people would generally favour side "A" over side "B". I belief this is because both of the preferred sides but the well being of others as a priority, and people do this out of an act that if they treat others better, they will be treated better down the line. Being too selfish makes people feel horrible in the sense that they have made others miserable, and being too selfless makes people feel horrible because they feel like they have abandoned themselves. It is of the
    utmost importance that a balance is struck, or else you're never truly happy.

    Finally, I also like to trust a little something that most people discredit as being unreliable and antiquated. That is my own instincts and intuition. If I have guttural feeling that one side of an outcome is better then the other, in a situation that I would otherwise struggle with, I highly favour the side of the instincts. I think people fail to realise that instincts are only existing to help you. Animals live entirely off of instincts, and they are, arguably, infinitely more successful then humans. Humans got the point they have because they had really strong instincts. For example, an antelope does not know that the cheetah wants to eat it. Likewise, the cheetah does not know that it wants to eat the antelope. Neither learned, and either isn't taught. The reason the know so is because of their instincts. Their instincts keep them alive, and their instincts help them to make crucial decisions. One's is to fight, the other's is to fly. Instincts don't disappear with sentience. The instincts are still intact, and most of the time people don't even realise that they're in play. In my life, my instincts have only but helped me, and lead to personal happier experiences.

    TL;DR: I like to strike a balance between all of my decisions, and usually pick the life option that will lead to me being happier.

    How did you come to have this compass?
    (What made you choose those principles over others? How has your compass changed over time?)

    I don't remember one event that caused me to develop this view, and if anything I simply point fingers towards my own personality. That being said though, it was very different from when I was younger. When I was younger, I was much more selfless, and was constantly being the argument stopper or the "reconciler", striving for everyone to be happy. As I've gotten older however, my introvert-ism has been a much bigger influence over my beliefs, and so has my cynicism. I've become much more un-biased, and have adopted a strict neutrality whenever I can in what I believe. This obviously, leads to some odd viewpoints on situations, but I truly do believe that these ideals are coming from the want to better people's lives.

    I think that this drastic change can be attributed to the way I was brought up, as it to be expected. I was being brought up to believe that I should be nice to people, be selfless, help others and what have you, and being young I just did it. Children are best at taking orders after all. Looking back, of course this made the "in between" stages of my life pretty difficult, having a complete flip of morality and what have you. Even earlier, I can kind of see this in my life, and I can see it only leading to more problems then benefits. This is actual problem with child raising is, children being sponges only does them more harm then good, and parents should aim for them to pick what they want to believe in. Of course, this is also an "Order" if you will, and causes the circle that this psychology has with everything, but I digress.

    How well does your compass serve you (in society, in your personal life, etc.)?

    I'd like to say that it serves me quite well in life. I've never made any life decisions that I have majorly regretted (apart from being a total spaz), and I think this is attributed to my strict neutrality mindset. I can easily see how someone might make a complete mess of my compass, but with such other guidelines I think it can serve a person quite well. Of course, this may be attributed to the fact that I am extremely introverted and really don't talk to anyone within a very small circle of friends. I don't have much room to experiment, or any huge decisions have crossed my path. So in reality, I really have no idea how well it would serve in a much more hectic life. As it stands though, for what I've done, it's served me quite well. I can't really compare it with other compass' I may have had in the past, because I have previously said, my only other major compass was the one I has when I was younger. When you're at that age, you don't think hard about anything you do bar what you've been told. As a result I can't really reflect on it, because I can't compare how I thought about it in both times, because in the former it was I knew. I haven't done anything illegal apart from pirating the occasional game, and numerous anime and manga, and I strive to be a good citizen. I haven't planned to murder anyone, and I high;y doubt I ever will. I don't try to do anything that will give me too much attention, and as a result leads to, I believe, a desirable life in the eyes of the law. My social life is something of the flipside, in many ways it is undesirable, isolated and bland. I don't do anything too terribly exciting, and as a result may seem boring. This view, however, also leads to me having much extremer views about people. Unlike other people, there are a good few number of people that I actually despise. I don't mean historical figures either, just regular people in my life. I find it quite reasonable, but it is obviously something a society does not appreciate, and as such I guess I fail in that area. I attribute both of those to my moral compass. Naturally, I see it as quite comfortable and happy, but others wouldn't, so to reiterate, I really can't say.

    In short, I try to live in neutrality. I act as a person people know can trust, and act as a person people know won't get too close with, generally. I trust my instincts, and try to act upon them. This isn't how everyone aspires to live, but I prefer as it, as I'm not bound to one view, and I believe, am malleable, and as such fits well within a functioning society. I aspire to be a good citizen, and I think that it succeeds. A winner is me I guess.