Why Should I Be Moral

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Social Contract Theory

  • Hobbes' social contract theory sees morality as being in a our long term self-interest
  • If we are moral people will treat us in the same way in return
  • Morality is a contract in which we will all benefit
  • Morality is a man-made thing so moral rules are whatever we make them
  • Hobbes claims that without a social contract there would be a 'war of all against all' and life would be 'nasty, brutish and short'


  • Straight forward, simple theory. We all understand contracts as a normal part of everyday life and so it seems reasonable to think morality works in this way too
  • Social conVirtues fall between two vicestract theory explains why people have different thoughts on morality and different cultures have moral codes which differ
  • Criticised by Kant's claim that the only moral actions are those motivated by duty. This means that an action done as part of a social contract is motivated by self-interest so ceases to be moral at all
  • The contract is implicit and so not real. No one ever really agrees to the contract or can opt out of it. This means that it doesn't really seem like a contract at all

Virtue Approach

  • Being moral through developing virtues and so become more fulfilled.
  • Aristotle -
    • Virtue is a disposition to behaving a positive way willingly with no ulterior motives
    • The doctrine of the mean - , and through good judgement and reasoning we can establish the right balance. For example, courage falls between cowardice and foolhardiness
    • Function of human beings is to reason and function makes us fulfilled. Only through reason can be flourish
    • Eudemonia is the goal of life which is achieved through the development of our virtues and talents so we can flourish
  • Plato


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