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Moral Judgment :- Philosophy

Moral Judgment : Nature of Moral Consciousness & Distinguish moral Judgment from Logical and Aesthetic Judgment .


THE NATURE OF MORAL CONSCIOUSNESS


Moral consciousness is the consciousness of right and wrong . It is the consciousness of men is distinctions . It is the awareness of the moral worth of acts and agents . It is the self's awareness of the character of an action as right or wrong . It is the apprehension of the moral quality of voluntary and habitual actions of rational agents or persons , and of the moral worth of their character .


Moral consciousness is the awareness of the moral quality of voluntary actions of persons . It involves

  • Cognitive or intellectual

  • Affective or Emotional &

  • Conative or Volitional Factors .


( 1 ) Moral Judgment is the main cognitive factor in moral consciousness . It involves intuition of the moral standard by reason and comparison of a voluntary action with it and evaluation of it as right or wrong . consciousness of right and duties , virtues and vices , merit and demerit . responsibility or accountability is also involved in moral consciousness . These are the Cognitive factors in moral consciousness .


(2) The emotional factors include the moral sentiments . They are the feelings of approval and disapproval which accompany moral judgements . When we apprehend that an action is right , it excites a feeling of approbation in our minds .


Moral judgements are followed by moral sentiments . Their existence is no criterion of the validity of moral judgements . Moral sentiments are not followed by mortal judgement .


( 3 ) Moral consciousness involves the regulation of the impulses by reason according to its conception of the highest good . Thus it involves choice at an action by the self . And it also involves the moral impulse to do the right action . All these are the conative factors in moral consciousness .


THE NATURE OF MORAL JUDGEMENT

Moral Judgement is a judgement of value as distinguished from a judgement of fact . A judgement of fact is a judgement of what is . A judgement of value is a judgement of what ought to be . The former is a descriptive judgement , while the latter is an appreciative or critical judgment- Moral Judgement is the mental act of discerning and pronouncing a particular action to be right or wrong .


Mackenzie rightly observes that the moral judgement is not like a logical judgement ; that is not merely a judgement about but a judgement upon an action . Thus moral judgement is not a judgment about an action , but a judgement upon an action with reference to the moral ideal . It compares an action with the moral standard and pronounces it to be right or wrong . Moral judgement is a judgement of value as distinguished from a judgement of fact . It doesn't consider the nature of an action , but its moral value , rightness or wrongness . It judges what our actions ought to be .


The moral quality of an action is recognized in this way . When we perceive a voluntary action , we compare it with the moral standard , and thus judge whether the action , is in conformity with it or not . In other words , moral judgement involves the application of a standard to a particular action . Thus it is clear that moral judgement is inferential in , nature , involving the application of a standard to particular action . But we must not suppose that our ordinary moral judgements always involve explicit reasoning or inference .


Moral Judgement has objective validity . It is not determined by the subjective inclinations and prejudices of the person who makes the judgement . An action is right in a particular situation from the standpoint of the universe .


A moral judgement presupposes a subject who judges , an object that is judged , standard according to which an action is judged and a faculty of judging or moral faculty .


MORAL JUDGEMENT DISTINGUISHED FROM LOGICAL JUDGEMENT AND ESTHETIC JUDGEMENT


Ethics , Logic and Aesthetics are normative sciences . They determine the nature of three supreme norms of ideals of life . Ethics is concerned with the ideal of the Highest Good . Logic is concerned with the ideal to Truth .


Aesthetics is concerned with the ideal of Beauty . Thus logical judgements refer to the ideal of Truth . Aesthetic judgements refer to the ideal of Beauty . But moral judgements refer to the ideal of supreme Good . All of them are appreciative or critical judgements . But moral judgements are always accompanied by moral obligation and moral sentiments which do not accompany logical and aesthetic judgements . When we judge an action to be right , we feel under moral obligation to perform it and have a feeling of approval .


Moral obligation is the sense of duty or oughtness . Moral judgements , are obligatory in character and accompanied by moral sentiments . Therefore they cannot be reduced to logical or aesthetic judgements , which are lacking in moral obligation and moral sentiments .


THE OBJECT OF MORAL JUDGEMENT

Voluntary actions and habitual actions are objects of moral judgements . Non voluntary actions are excluded from the scope of moral judgment . Habitual actions are objects of moral judgements , because they are results of repeated voluntary actions . Thus ultimately only voluntary actions are judged to be right or wrong . Whatever is not willed has no moral worth . Voluntary actions imply the freedom of the will . But a voluntary action consists of three main steps .


1) The mental stage of spring of action , motive , intention , desire , deliberation , choice and resolution .

2) The organic stage of bodily action ;

3)The external stage of consequences . Now ,


The question arises :


DO WE JUDGE AN ACT BY ITS MOTIVES , OR IT CONSEQUENCES ?

Moral Judgement is not passed upon all kinds of actions but only upon conduct . But conduct or willed action has two aspects ; it is will and it is action ; it involves an internal factor and an external factor .


There is a hot controversy between Hedonists and Intuitionists . The Hedonists maintain that the rightness or wrongness of an action depends upon the consequences , while the Intuitionists maintain that it depends upon the motive . " If motive are good or bad " , say Bentham , it is on account of their effects .


Similarly , J.S. Mill says , " The motive of an action has nothing to do with the morality of the action , though much with the worth of the agent . " Bentham and J.S. Mill , who are Hedonists , take the term motive in the sense of springs of action . Feelings of pleasure and pain are the springs of action .


Martineau also maintains that motives or springs of action determine the moral quality of action and gives a long list of the springs of action , considered psychologically and ethically . His view will be considered later . Butler and Martineau are Intuitionists .


2 ) IF MOTIVE ALONE OR INTENTION THE OBJECT OF MORAL JUDGEMENT ?

Bentham takes motive in the sense of pleasure and pain which are springs of action . He says , " A Motive is substantially nothing more than pleasure or pain operating in a certain manner . Bentham takes intention in the sense of the end or aim of action which persuades the agent to act or dissuades him from acting . Therefore , he regards intention as the object of moral judgement .


J.S. Mill also holds that motive in the sense of the spring of action or feelings of pleasure and pain is not the object of moral judgement , but that intention or the end or aim of action is the object of moral judgement . '


This view is wrong . The spring of action , or the feeling of pleasure and pain , is not the motive . It is blind and irrational . It cannot move a rational agent to act . The motive is the end or aim of action . It is the final cause of action . It is not its efficient cause . It does not move the self to act from behind . It induces the self to act . Therefore , motive in this sense , is the object of moral judgement . But the feelings of pleasure and pain , which a re the brings of action , are never the objects of moral judgements . They are morally colourless as Bentham Says . So far Bentham is right .



3 ) IS INTENTION OF CHARACTER THE OBJECT OF MORAL JUDGEMENTS


Intention is not an isolated mental phenomenon . It is the expression of character . It is always influenced by the permanent disposition of the mind or character acquired by repeated voluntary actions . Therefore , some hold that character is ultimately the object of moral judgment . It is better to hold that intention is the object of moral judgement intention of the agents determines the moral quality of an action But we do not deny that a voluntary action on which moral judgement is passed is the expression of a person's self .

It as follows :

1 ) A voluntary action or an action for the realization of a chosen end is the object of moral judgement .

2 ) The external consequences which is the expression of the inner motive or intention is the object of moral judgement , foreseen and intended consequence determines the moral quality of an action .

3 ) When the out consequence does not tally with the inner motive , it is the motive , and not the consequence that is the object or moral judgement .

4 ) But the motive alone does not determine the moral quality of an action . Intention which includes motive determines its moral quality . The end and the means both must be good in order to make an action right . The end never justifies the means . If the end is good but the means adopted is bad , the action should be regarded as wrong .

5 ) It is wrong to hold that character is always the object of moral judgment . It determines the moral worth of a person , but not of his particular actions . The moral quality of an action is always determines by the intention of the agent .


THE SUBJECT OF MORAL JUDGEMENT

Who passes moral judgement ? It is the rational self or ideal self that passes moral judgement . It passes moral judgments on its motives , intentions and actions . And it passes moral judgements on the motives , intentions and actions of others also .


Mackenzie means by the subject of moral judgement the point of view from which an action is judged to be good or bad . A person judges an action to be right or wrong from the standpoint of an ideal standard .


Shaftesbury , an advocate of the moral sense theory , holds that a work of art is judged to be good or bad by the connoisseur . The artist appeals to the judgment of the connoisseur of appreciation of beauty . Similarly , when we deal with conduct , we appeal to the judgement of the moral connoisseur .


Art aims at the production of a certain result . The connoisseur is the only judge whether such a result is beautiful or ugly . But in morality the action rather than its result that is judged . Now this action has been already judged by the person who acts . He has deliberately chosen the action . If his action is wrong , it is judged to be wrong not merely by the moral connoisseur , but by himself when he reflects upon it . Thus the subject of the moral judgement is not , the moral connoisseur , but the person himself who does the action . The ideal or rational self is the subject of moral judgement .


Adam Smith holds a view similar to that of Shaftsbury . He holds that a person passes moral judgements on his own actions , and those of others from the standpoint of an impartial spectator . We pass moral judgements upon the conduct and the character of other people . Then we find that they also pass moral judgements upon our conduct and character . Thus we come to reflect upon our own motives , intentions , and actions and become anxious to know how far we deserve their censure or applause . Thus we become spectators of our own behaviour . " When I endeavour " , says Adam Smith , " to examine my own conduct , I divide myself , as it were , into two persons . I , the examiner and judge , represent a different character from that other I , the person whose conduct is examined into and judged of . The first is the spectator . The second is the agent . The first is the judge ; the second the person judged of . " Thus Adam Smith was led to the idea of the impartial spectator " from whose point of view our moral judgements are pronounced . In passing moral judgements we must appeal from the opinions of the mankind to the higher tribunal of our own conscience to that of the " impartial spectator . "


This view contains a core of truth . The point of view of moral judgement is that of unbiased reason . We ought to view our own actions as impartial spectators , as we view others ' actions . The spectator or the judge in a person in an ideal self . The person judged of is the actual self . Then , it is true that moral consciousness is evolve through intercourse with moral society . But it is not necessarily true that we judge other's actions first , and then our own actions first , we become clearly conscious of our own motives and intentions and judge them to be right and wrong , then we infer the motives and intentions of others persons from their actions in the light of our own experience .


Distinguish Ethical Statement from descriptive statement .

A description is just what you think it is : It describes a situation or what a philosopher might call a state of affairs . For example . The car is red . " The river is flowing quickly . I'm sad that my juicer is broken . " " Brutus killed Caesar . " A normative statement is a claim about how things ought to be . For example , " Jazz is better than pop music . " " If you want to pass the exam you should study , " " Killing an innocent person is wrong . " The poi nt here is to see that there is a difference between descriptive claims and normative claims . The question of whether normative judgments are anything more than opinion is a question that philosophers debate and discuss . This distinction is sometimes also referred to as the " is / ought distinction or the " descriptive / prescriptive distinction . An additional example is below :

​Descriptive Claim

​Normative Claim

​No one knows what happens after death

​No one should fear death .

Nature of Moral Judgment

Moral judgment is a judgment of values . It is distinct from the judgment of facts . A Judgment of value is a judgment of " what ought to be " . But a judgment of fact is a judgment of " what is " . Judgment of fact is a descriptive judgment , while moral judgment is an appreciative or critical judgment . So , moral judgment is a mental act of pronouncing a particular action to be right or wrong . According to Mackenzie , moral judgment is not merely to state the nature of some object , but to compare it with a standard and to pronounce it to be good or evil , right or wrong . So , it is normative . Muirhead says that moral judgment is concerned with the judgment upon conduct , the judgment that such and such conduct is right and wrong . The judgment upon conduct has a judicial sense and the judgment of fact has logical sense . Thus , when we perceive a voluntary action we compare it with the moral standard and thus judge whether the action is in conformity with it or not . So , it is clear that , moral judgment is inferential in nature , involving the application of a standard to a particular action . But in the language of Bradley , ordinarily moral judgment is intuitive and immediate . Because , we intuitively brings an action under a moral rule recognized by the community and judge it to be right or wrong It is only in difficult or doubtful cases that we consciously compare an action with the moral ideal and judge it as right or wrong . Hence , we can find out that a moral judgment presupposes a subject , who judges an object that is judged , a standard according to which an action is judged .


Again , it is important to observe that moral judgment is distinguished from logical and aesthetical judgment . As we know Ethics , Logic and Aesthetics are normative science . And accordingly they have three supreme norms and ideals of life . Ethics is concerned with the ideals of Highest Good , logic is concerned with the ideal of Truth and aesthetics is concerned with the ideal of Beauty . It is true that all of them are appreciative or critical judgment . But moral judgments are always accompanied by moral obligation and moral sentiments , which are not accompanied by logical and aesthetics judgments . When we judge an action to be right , we feel a moral obligation to perform it and have a feeling of approval . And we judge an action to be wrong , we feel that under moral obligation we are not to perform it and therefore , we have a feeling of disapproval . Feeling of approval , disapproval , rightness , wrongness etc. are called moral sentiments . Thus , moral judgments are obligatory in character and are accompanied by moral sentiments . So , they differ from logical and aesthetic judgments which are not accompanied by moral obligation and moral sentiments .


Moral judgements , whether something is good or bad in its own right are contained wholly in the field of ethics . In the process of reasoning also we find different classes of judgements and they are usually judgement of facts . But moral judgement as a judgement of value is concerned with what ought to be . It judges our actions ought to be . It has distinctive features . It is critical judgement and appreciative . It is the mental act of discerning and pronouncing a particular action to be right or wrong . After evaluation and deliberation actions are to be judged in conformity with a standard . " To speak the truth is always right ' is a moral judgement . Moral judgement differs from judgement of fact which is descriptive judgement and it describes what is . Judgements of facts are more objective because they depend on the real nature of the world . For example ' Water is composed of oxygen and hydrogen ' .


Moral judgement is inferential in character though the element of inference generally remains implicit . It involves the application of a standard to a particular action . When we perceive a voluntary action , we compare it with the moral standard and we judge whether the action is in conformity with it ot . Ordinarily moral judgements are intuitive and immediate . F.H. Bradley says that they are intuitive subsumptions . But in complex and doubtful cases the whole process is becomes explicit and reflective . In complicated circumstances the moral standard is explicitly held before the mind and applied to the cases under consideration .


How are the moral judgements different from logical judgements ? .


Moral judgements are distinguished from logical judgements . Logical judgements refer to the ideal of Truth and it is merely a judgement about . But moral judgements refer to the ideal of supreme Good . The supreme Good or the highest Good is the ultimate standard of moral judgement . .


In moral judgement there is always moral obligation and moral sentiments . Moral obligation is the sense of duty or oughtness . Again , moral judgements are accompanied by a feeling of approval or disapproval , feeling of complacence or remorse etc. when we judge an action to be right , we feel under moral obligation to perform it and have a feeling of approval . When we judge an action to be wrong we feel under moral obligation not to perform it and have a feeling of disapproval . But all are lacking in logical judgement .


Mackenzie holds that moral judgement is a judgement upon action with reference to the moral ideal . For him moral judgement is not like a logical judgement which is a judgement about an action . He says that moral judgement does not consider the nature of an action , but it considers its moral value .


Muirhead says that moral judgement is not a judgement in the logical sense of a ' proposition ' but that it is a judgement in the judicial sense of a ' sentence ' .


Let us now see how moral judgements differ from Aesthetics judgements .

  • Moral judgements are also distinguished from Aesthetic judgements .

  • Though moral judgements and aesthetic judgements are the matter of normative sciences , but their norms are different .

  • Moral judgement deals with the ideal of Highest Good whereas aesthetic judgement deals with the ideal of Beauty .

  • Again , aesthetic judgements are not accompanied by moral obligation and moral sentiments .

  • On the other hand moral judgements are obligatory in nature and accompanied by moral sentiments .

  • Moral judgement has objective validity . An action is right in a particular situation from the standpoint of the universe . It is not determined by the subjective inclination and prejudices of the person who makes the judgement .


OBJECT OF MORAL JUDGEMENT :

Moral judgments are passed on the voluntary actions and habitual actions . Actually habitual actions are voluntary actions turned into habit after constant repetitions . Hence , only voluntary actions are objects of moral judgement and they are judged to be right or wrong . Voluntary actions imply the freedom of will . Non voluntary actions are outside the scope of moral judgement . Voluntary action has some internal factors :

i ) The mental stage of spring of action , motive , intention , desire , deliberation , choice and resolution .

ii ) The organic stage of bodily action .

iii ) The external stage of consequence Now the question arises


1. Do we judge an act by its motives or by its consequence ? Or Is motive or consequence of a voluntary action the object of moral judgement ?

2. Is motive alone or intention the object of moral judgement ?

3.Is intention of character the object of moral judgement ?


Let us discuss these issues briefly


1. We find a controversy amongst the moral philosophers regarding the answer of the first question - whether moral quality rests on the consequence or the motive of an action . The hedonists hold that the rightness and the wrongness of an action rest on the consequence as the motive of an action is the ordinary spring of action . Bentham and J.S. Mill take the term ' motive ' in the sense of spring of action . Bentham says that whether motives are good or bad depends on account of their effects . Mill also holds that the motive of an action has nothing to do with the morality of the action , though much with the worth of the agent .


But the intuitionists especially Kant , Martineu and Butler hold that it is the motive which is the object of moral judgement with this consideration , Kant made his famous statement that there is nothing in the world or even out of it that can be called good without qualification except a goodwill . By ' goodwill ' Kant meant the firm desire and fixed purpose to do something good . The moral quality of an action is determined by the goodwill that motivates it and not upon consequence . Martineau made an attempt to make the proper object of moral judgement and said that motives or springs of action determine the moral quality of an action . He gives a long list of the springs of action considered psychologically and ethically . Butler also says that the rightness and wrongness of an action depends very much upon the motive for which it is done .


Motive and Consequence

Motive and consequence are not really opposed to each other .

1. The motive is the inner idea of the outer consequence as foreseen and desired .

2. The consequence is outer manifestation of the inner motive .

3. When there is a harmony between the inner motive and outward consequence , both are the objects of moral judgements .

5. But when there is a conflict between the inner motive and the outer consequence , the moral quality of an action is determined by the inner motive and not by the consequence .

6. Sometimes it is found that the motive is good , but the consequence turns bad and in that case the action is good . Sometimes the motive is bad , but the consequence turns out to be good and in that case the action is wrong .


2. Now the second problem Is motive alone or intention the object of moral judgement ?

The answer is that the motive alone does not determine the moral quality of an action . In passing the moral judgement on an action we must consider the motive wherefrom the act springs , but can not judge the action simply upon it alone . In judging the moral character of an action we should always consider not only the motive or the end of the agent but also the means which he is adopting in order to realise the end . To judge an action simply on merit of motive is to follow the dangerous principle of the ' end justifies the means . " If this principle is adopted then immoral actions are to be justified .


From this it is clear that motive alone can not determine the moral quality of an action . Intention also which includes motive determines the moral quality of action . Bentham and Mill hold that intention is the object of moral judgement . We may conclude that an action is good if and only if it is good i.e. both the end and means are good ; and it is wrong if any one of these two is bad . Mackenzie mentioned different classes of intention like mediate and immediate , inner and outer , indirect and direct etc. and all of these classes are the object of moral judgement .


Again , there is another problem and the problem is that in our own case we know our own intention thoroughly well , but how can we know the intention of others ? We shall try to know the intention of others by the external manifestation . Intention is the external manifestation of character . Moral judgement is passed on the character of the age nt as expressed in and through his intention . The moral agent himself is the object of moral judgement .


• Motive and Intention , Means and Ends .

Bentham and J.S.Mill take the term motive in the sense of spring of action or feelings and emotions , and the term intention in the sense of the aim , object or end of action . Motive is the efficient cause of action , whereas , intention is the final cause of action . But this is wrong . Motive and intention both are the final causes of action .


Only intention is wider that motive . Motive is a part of intention . The motive of a voluntary action is the chosen end which is realised by it induces the self to act . But in order to realise an end . We have to employ means . The end may be pleasant . But it may be realised through an unpleasant .


Thus intention is wider than motive . It consists of the ideas of the chosen end or motives chosen means agreeable or disagreeable and also the foreseen consequences of the action .


The motive of an action is the idea of the and that induces a person to perform it . This must be included in the intention , but is not identical with the whole of it . Intention includes the idea of the means which may dissuade the agent from performing the action . When terrorist resorted to robbery and murder to liberate India from foreign rule , their motive was freedom of India . While their intention included robbery and murder . Thus intention is wider than motive . It includes the idea of the chosen end , the idea of the chosen means , and the idea of the foreseen consequences .





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