Moral Universality and Moral Diversity (i)

  • A. J. M. Milne


3.1.1 According to the argument of the last chapter, there must be morality wherever there is social life. This is in fact the case. Morality is universal in the sense that in every community there are virtues which the members have an obligation to cultivate and practise, principles upon which they have an obligation to act, and rules which they have an obligation to follow.1 But, while everywhere there is morality, there is not everywhere the same morality. The virtues, principles and rules are not always and everywhere the same. There exists and always has existed a ‘diversity of morals’.2 This can be illustrated by the institution of the family and the moral virtues, principles and rules connected with it. It exists in every community but not in the same form. It takes one form in urban North America, another in rural India. In many respects it is markedly different in modern Europe from what it used to be in medieval Europe. At different times and in different places, relations between husbands and wives, between parents and children and between near and distant kinsfolk have been based upon different principles. There are and have been different rules about eligibility for marriage, about whether, and if so for what reasons, it can be terminated, about the scope and limits of parental authority, as well as about many other details of family life.


Social Responsibility Social Life Child Welfare Moral Virtue Constitutive Rule 
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Copyright information

© A. J. M. Milne 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. J. M. Milne
    • 1
  1. 1.University of DurhamUK

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