Unit 1.4 Beliefs, values and moral reasoning (1).doc

Unit 1.4 Beliefs, values and moral reasoning (1).doc

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Beliefs, values and moral
Beliefs and their origins
Beliefs are based on personal thoughts and opinions, perhaps with reference to some form of
external authority or teaching. People have individual beliefs -- which might differ from those held
"by others -- and they may belong to groups and organisations where beliefs are shared.
In some respects, beliefs may be theories, because beliefs cannot be proved. For example, a
religious person may believe in God and may do so with a fervent conviction and a deep and
unshakeable faith. However, that person is unable to offer factual proof that God exists, so cannot
claim to be telling the truth because what is true is capable of being verified.
Initially we learn from those immediately around us -- in most cases our parents. They are the
prime socialisers because, as babies or very young children, we are almost wholly dependent on
them. Depending on the size and structure of the family, others contribute to our beliefs, in that
young children copy what older children and adults say or do.
Many children now start some form of education from the age of 3, so we also learn from other
children and from teachers. As we get older, school plays a more important role, as do our peers.
Individuality is sometimes prized, but people aim for conformity so as to be 'in with the crowd', to
behave in a way based on shared beliefs. The influence of others maybe extended at secondary
school, where there are more pupils and more teachers, and then further with, entry to some form
of further or higher education or to work.
Work is just one example of the widening of the environment. Where we grow up can have an
important influence on our beliefs. Rural environments are prized by some people for their beauty,
peace and quiet. Yet young people growing up in a rural environment often complain that they lack
facilities, are isolated and do not offer stimulation. Innercity environments maybe characterised by
more crime, vandalism and drug taking but cities can be more vibrant as far as many young people
are concerned.
As we grow up the media become more important. At first we are likely to be passive learners
lapping up programmes for young children. As we get older, we learn to read and gradually become
more independent learners. There is often a 'generation' gap between young people and their
parents, with the former rebelling against the beliefs of the latter. Television, radio, DVDs,

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Moral values and their origins
Commonly linked to beliefs are values, although in the latter we move towards morality and making
judgements about what we regard as being right and wrong. As we grow up, we develop value
systems that influence the way we behave. Moral values become rules -- perhaps loosely written
and understood -- that determine how we interact with others. From our beliefs and values we
learn responsibility, both as individuals and towards others.…read more

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Such people would consider an 'assisted death' to be a 'mercy killing'.
The law did move a little in the case of Anthony Bland, a 17yearold left severely brain damaged in
the 1989 Hillsborough Football Stadium disaster (which involved a fatal crush of supporters). In
1993 the High Court and the House of Lords agreed to a request from Anthony's parents and the
NHS trust that, because Tony was in a persistent vegetative state, his life support should be turned
off.…read more

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Nonadult euthanasia is also
permitted in the Netherlands.
'Assisted suicide' exists in Switzerland, where it can be practised by nonphysicians. Some
Britons, aided by the charity Dignitas, have travelled there to end their lives, although they
must first be seen by doctors and lawyers, and family members returning to Britain risk
prosecution. Euthanasia remains illegal in Switzerland.
After initial legislation in 2002, Belgian pharmacists have been permitted since 2005 to
supply doctors with fatal doses of medicine to facilitate assisted suicide.…read more

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A cure may be found for a particular illness.
· Goodquality palliative care is now available.
· The elderly may worry that someone wants them dead.
· It compromises the relationship between patients, carers and doctors,
· Relatives may suffer from guilt if they consent,
· As in Nazi Germany, euthanasia could lead to racial cleansing.
· It assumes that the lives of the terminally ill or severely disabled are less
valuable than others.…read more


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