O pojęciu moralności

Ija Lazari-Pawłowska


The article takes up the problem of the definition of an axiologically neutral concept of morality. What currently passes under the term of morality, is so inconsistent and multi-faceted a whole that all attempts at formulating a single definition to cover all the existing aspects invariably end in failure. However, in that inconsistent whole it is possible to differentiate some relatively consistent parts, creating thus several concepts of morality, each capable of serving some specific research purposes.

Not every norm is necessarily of a moral type. Amongst the many criteria intuitively adopted to select out of all norms, such as are of moral type, there are several which are in particularly frequent use. Some of these (the psychological, the sociological and the systematic) are of a formal character: they name certain norms as moral not because of their content but with reference to some specific experience on the part of some particular individual or with reference to some specific social sanctions, etc.; as a rule, such criteria lead to a relativized concept of a moral norm. Another group of criteria refer to the content of norms. Of these, two seem of importance. The first includes certain norms among the moral ones on the ground that they recommend certain kinds of acts that are themselves associated with morality (such as, eg., honesty, reverence for life, or veracity); the other one qualifies various norms as moral because they follow from certain fundamental principles which were axiomatically accepted as moral. In case of a definition giving content-criteria of a moral norm the delineation of the scope of this basically neutral concept is however influenced to a greater or lesser degree by moral intuitions or the author.

It is quite possible to undertake tasks in descriptive ethics without having any definition of morality at one’s disposal. For instance, such possibility exists in case of writing a monograph on ‚the moral convictions’ of a given author or group. In such cases, it is usual to give the concept of morality such a broad sense as to make it coincide with the concept of ethos. One can also dispense with the definition of morality when one is investigating mutual relations between definite concrete facts, such as, eg., the number of births and reverence for life. On the other hand, when one wants to express general opinions about morals en bloc (eg., ‚Morality depends on … ‚, or, ‚Morals change along with … ‚, etc.), it is essential to give clear indication as to the exact scope of facts ref erred to. Otherwise, the use of vague concept leads one to formulating of unverifiable statements .