Introduction: Justification of Morality

  • P. K. Mohapatra


As a forerunner to a treatise on Indian ethics, the first question that calls for deliberation is: Why should men be moral? This is a question about ethics. Here we question the need for the ethical point of view; we ask for justification of ethics – justification of our being moral. This chapter treats this question as an improper question since it is a question about something that is normally presupposed by the question itself. One reason why ethics and the moral point of view is normally presupposed is that men are naturally moral beings. To highlight this, a unique conception of moral personhood is proffered which, it is argued, is a logical consequence of men being rational as well as spiritual beings – the former being a necessary condition and the latter a sufficient condition of men being moral.

Thus argued ‘why should men be moral?’ is a logically odd sort of question, much like the question ‘why should men be rational?’. In asking this second question, one asks for the reason for one’s being rational, which is presupposed by the question itself. And in asking the moral question ‘why should men be moral?’, it is morality that is normally presupposed. The chapter further shows that the Indian philosophers’ special emphasis on the spiritual faculty of man has contributed significantly to our conception of moral personhood.


Question about ethics Moral personhood Ethical point of view Rational Spiritual Reciprocal personal stance Self-transcendence Supervene 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. K. Mohapatra
    • 1
  1. 1.Former Professor of PhilosophyUtkal UniversityBhubaneswarIndia

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