Define 'morally correct'

Could someone explain what is meant by “morally correct”?

morally corect: adj. That which I believe is good, leads to good, or encourages good.


It might be if you look at being morally correct as something thats subjective tp each person

My morals might not match with yours so we could deabe whos morally correct in that sense

What it turns into is " my morality is better than yours "

I vote for the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

E.g., you’re allowed any definition of morality as you deem appropriate, but you must be consistent and allow others to use that same definition towards you.


But this is just defining a term with another term, and so does DDG’s dictionary definitions.

What is ‘good’? What is 'right? What is ‘ethical’? Or rather, why should something be considered right or wrong, moral or immoral?


Morality is–or is intended to be–a set of rules is it not? And rules are meant to apply to everyone. It’s obvious that everyone has different opinions on what the list should consist of, but I think most would agree that ideally there should be a set of moral standards that the whole society should be subject to, if only we could know for certain what it ought to consist of.

Naturally religion figures highly in this discussion, since many define morality as ‘God’s laws’, but ultimately it’s a self-neutralizing line of reasoning. If you can convince me that a supreme being disapproves of a certain behavior, you need go no further in convincing me that it’s immoral, but that first part is the entire dispute.

So what we have in society is a very imperfect accomodation of various individuals and groups each of whom are living according to their beliefs while lobbying for them to be adopted as as the One True Morality.

That’s a pretty good start, Rjung. It’s the result of a logical process whereby we gauge the impact of our actions by imagining the impact they would have on ourselves. I would like to see some of our more religious members justify regarding premarital sex and homosexuality as immoral in this light. Also, environmentalists would probably want to include the environment inder the heading of ‘others’.

IMO, morality boils down to a 3-step process:

  1. Setting priorities
  2. Gauging the impact various behaviours have on the fulfillment of these priorities.
  3. Enforcement

Yes, that is the nature of definitions. The OP asked “what is meant by”, generally that is considered a request for a definition. You have chosen to break your definition into 3 steps, as if doing so changed the nature of the thing. It does not. You have also chosen to address the question as if it were asking for the particular nature of your moral understanding. That might indeed be what the OP was looking for, though the question was not framed in that way. I chose to supply one of the two classical answers to the OP as phrased–the correct one, IMO.

What are ‘priorities’? What is ‘fulfillment’? How is ‘enforcement’ morally correct?

Because I find it to be so. That is the sole characteristic salient to the OP. The details of my personal moral code have nothing whatsoever to do with what is meant by “morally correct”. Turning litmus paper red is not what we mean by acidic.

Well naturally my response was far from a definitive answer to a question that ha been wrestled with throughout history. I’m just trying to flesh it out a little bit more. I submit that morality is about adressing the impact that one’s behavior has beyond one’s self. If that’s “the particular nature of my moral understanding” then so be it.

Priorities are the things that are more important as opposed to the thnigs thst are less. This still leaves the main question, what are the priorities, unanswered, but it’s still more precise than talking about “good”.

When and if we agree on a priority, say, keeping human beings alive as long as possible, then applying first-aid or contributing to medicare helps fulfill it (perhaps “maintain” is a better word) and is thus “moral” whereas killing people undermines the priority and is thus “immoral”.

If you agree that certain behavior is immoral, then you agree it should be stopped (or if moral, encoraged). This can be done through law enforcement or simple societal approval/disapproval.

I’m not following you here, Spirius. These statements appear contradictory. Are you making a distinction between “moral” and “morally correct”? I’m not.

Something that is correct (morally, that is).:slight_smile:

I can see that you are not. I was hoping that the litmus paper metaphor would make it clear. I’ll try again.

You are answering the question, “how do I tell if something is moral?”

I am answering the question, “what do we mean by morally correct?”

Nor am I. I am making a distinction between what we mean by morally correct and how we determine whether something is morally correct. The details of my moral understanding are pertinent to the second question, but only tangential to the first.

IOW, we cannot observe ‘morality’, we can only study actions and their effects. In order to gage the moral correctness of our own (or others’) actions, we test them according to our individual moral understandings. Although there may be considerable overlap among the individual moral gages within a society, the concept of moral rectitude is distinct from its measurement.

Let’s take this one step at a time.

Morality is a set of rules, agreed?

I would say that it is a set of principles. Morality is not necessarily rule-based, though rule-based moralities are certainly quite common in human history. That’s a minor quibble, though.

“Moral philosophy” is not “philosophy that is founded on proper application of ethical principles” but “the philosophy of what constitutes proper morality.”

Spiritus was, I think, using “moral” in this value-neutral sense to mean “of or pertaining to concepts or standards of morality,” rather than in the alternate value-bearing sense of “morally correct”

Morality is a socialy evolved set of principles, developed over thousands of years of trial and error to ensure survival of our species. We gather together in groups to protect us against nature, naturaly there needs to be a general rule system to ensure the group is strong. Compound that over thousands of years of civilization and our superiority over nature and suddenly morality is a quaint little discussion over chiante on a Sunday night.

Not quite, Poly. I was (and am) trying to answer the OP, which asked, “Define ‘morally correct’. Could someone explain what is meant by ‘morally correct’?” I see this question as distinct from, “what is each poster’s personal moral understanding.”

What I mean when I use the phrase “morally correct” is “in accordance with my moral understanding.” This places me squarely in the camp of moral relativism. The classic opposition to this would be, “in accordance to [absolute standard of good].” There are other potential answers, but most folks seem to fall into one or another refinement of those two.

The details of my moral code are inconsequential to this issue (as they are to moral relativism, for that matter). To my mind, they simply cloud the issue of what we mean when we say “morally correct”. Inserting them into the discussion quickly shifts the debate toward, “whose moral understanding is most [asserted property for valuation]?” Perhaps that is what Karallen intended with his OP. I have no wish to engage in such a discussion, but others are certainly welcome to explore as they wish.

Different societies may set up their own particular moral principles. One of our problems, especially in the U.S. (but not exclusively) is that we have so many different cultures intertwining and the standards of one seem silly to members of the other cultures. The answer seems to be to ignore all morals or ethics.

Another consequence is that when morals or ethics break down a society starts making laws to take their place. That is one reason that we have so many laws, lawyers and lawsuits.

This is a very good moral principle, however there is one problem that many dopers may object to. Say I’m a fundamentalist Christian and my opinion is that I would want someone to try and convert me, if I wasn’t “saved”. Does it then mean I should go out and try and save other people?