Why Should We be Moral?

  • Jonathan Lieberson
Part of the The Hastings Center Series in Ethics book series (HCSE)


Although it is a dramatic question, Why should we be moral? is rarely posed sincerely by anyone except philosophers and impertinent children. It is, nonetheless, an absorbing question that continues to provoke skeptical intellects, lending itself to a variety of interesting interpretations and connecting with important issues about moral knowledge, moral motivation, and the just society. Moreover, in times of social and political disorder or unrest, it may express the urgent need of a novel morality to justify itself. We live today in a period marked by conspicuous attention to self-to self-interest, self-fulfillment, self-improvement. “Leave me alone!” seems to be the cry not only of businessmen, but also of parents and children, lovers and careerists. What is the significance of this phenomenon, if it is one? More important, are present conditions hostile to the claims of morality? Are we asking ourselves why we should be moral any more often (or any more seriously) than we have in the past?


Human Nature Ethical Theory Moral Theory Moral Rule Moral Motivation 
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Copyright information

© The Hastings Center 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan Lieberson
    • 1
  1. 1.The Population CouncilCenter for Policy StudiesNew YorkUSA

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