Moral Rules

  1. Do not kill.
  2. Do not cause pain.
  3. Do not disable.
  4. Do not deprive of freedom.
  5. Do not deprive of pleasure.
  1. Do not deceive.
  2. Keep your promises.
  3. Do not cheat.
  4. Obey the law.
  5. Do your duty.

Rationality Flow Chart

Is Your Action (Objectively) Irrational?

Will your action cause or significantly increase the probability of your or anyone’s for whom you care suffering some irretrievable harm?

 |

 |

Yes

No

Is there a reason for your action?

Your action is not (objectively) irrational.

                      |                                     |

                   Yes 

      No

 

Is that reason adequate?

Your action is (objectively) irrational.

|

|

Yes

No

 

Your action is not (objectively) irrational.

Your action is (objectively) irrational.

Is Your Action (Personally) Irrational?

Do you, or should you, believe that your action will cause, or significantly increase the probability of your or anyone’s for whom you care suffering some non-trivial harm?

|

|

Yes

No

Do you have a reason for your action?

Your action is not (personally) irrational.

|

|

Yes

No

 

Is your reason adequate?

Your action is (per­sonally) irrational.

|

|

Yes

No

 

 

Does that reason motivate you?

Your action is (per­sonally) irrational.

|

|

Yes

No

 

 

Your action is not (personally) irrational

Your action is (per­sonally) irrational.

People can disagree about the adequacy of a reason, but if any significant group of otherwise rational people regard a reason as adequate, the reason does count as adequate.

Morality Flow Chart

Is your action immoral?

Is your action in violation of a moral rule?

|

|

Yes

No

Is it the kind of action that can be publicly allowed?

Your action is not immoral.

|

|

Yes

No

 

Is it the kind of action that would be publicly allowed?

Your action is immoral.

|

|

By all?

By some?

 

Your action is not immoral.

Your action is controversial. It is weakly justified, but it would be publicly allowed to punish it.

 

Is your action morally good?

Are you acting on a moral ideal?

|

|

Yes

No

Is your action in violation of a moral rule?

Your action is not morally good?

|

|

Yes

No

 

Is it the kind of action that can be publicly allowed?

Your action is morally good.

|

|

Yes

No

 

 

Is it the kind of action that would be publicly allowed?

Your action is immoral.

|

|

By all.

By some.

 

Your action is morally good.

Your action is controversial. It is weakly justified, but it would be publicly allowed to punish it.

An action can be publicly allowed only if it would be rational for a person using only rationally required belief to favor everyone knowing that this kind of action is allowed.

From: Bernard Gert’s Common Morality. Oxford University Press, 2004--151 & 152 & 20.



Reinhold Schlieper
August 11, 2006