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Norms for Moral Living

Chapter 8 Seminar
by

Meghan Fragis

on 4 April 2013

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Transcript of Norms for Moral Living

Norms for Moral Living Chapter 8 Seminar
Laws Rules What are Rules? Moral Principles and Natural Law Gyres' Ring What are Laws? What are Norms? Norms Norms set by an authority figure bring some kind of weight to what is expected.
Norms have to be reasonable as following them has to be achievable.
Norms promote and protect our values and they let us be free.
Norms help guide us through all of our passions and inclinations. Rules and regulations are put in place to give people the freedom to enjoy life with minimal worries.
Rules and regulations create structure and stability needed for a society to run effectively.
Without rules the world would be total chaos.
Laws and rules are not limitations on someone’s freedom, but instructions leading to freedom, order, and the well-being (common good) of all.
Norms are rules, laws, and maxims in life. 1. A Lawmaker
There are 2 types of lawmakers: God's Law and Human Law
God’s law is interpreted by the Church from the Bible and sacred texts (ex: the 10 commandments), God’s law is also expressed through our ability to reason, natural law. Human law is then decided through legislators and through the government.
2. A Specific Directive Action
Laws have to be very specific in their directions, need to clearly state what the law entails. Because of this we have laws covering every area of human life. 3. A Consideration of the Common Good
The purpose of the common good is to meet the needs of all and to protect everyone’s freedom. Laws are put in place to protect the common good and therefore everyone in society.
4. A Specific Group of People
Laws work within an institution and they address the people within these institutions.
The Catholic Church is one of these intuitions. Their laws are directed toward how their members should be attentive to the people on the margins of the intuition (the sick, the needy, etc.).
5. Obligation
the common good is so important that we are morally obliged to find ways of achieving it. By association the laws that are there to protect the common good, we are obliged to follow. A student of Socrates had a theory that “no one is just of his or her own will, but only under compulsion”.
He backed up his theory with the story of Gyres' ring, the one that turns the wearer invisible.
The question that arises is: If you could get away with it, would you?
So I ask you this, as an example, if you could steal a million dollars and get away with it would you?
It makes you think, are the only reasons we oblige to rules and laws is that we are scared of the consequences? Does that make us moral people? Rules are a different class of norms.
They are not as strict as laws but they are obligatory nonetheless.
The purpose of rules is to show people how to behave in certain situations, there are 3 categories of rules: absolute, generally binding, and relative. Absolute- These are rules that generally apply everywhere and to every circumstance.
Generally Binding- the rules must always be followed unless another rule conflicts with it. Do not lie is a generally binding rule, it is important to be truthful but under certain circumstances it is not a good idea to follow this rule.
Relative Rules- Maxims and Proverbs: These kinds of rules are ones that offer guidance or advice, they are little “nuggets of wisdom” like "absence makes the heart grow fonder". They come from customs of the past, culture and communities or institutions like schools and churches. Moral principles are basic truths we use to determine rules of conduct. With moral reasoning these principles let us measure our moral obligation in certain situations.
The moral principles are present in every aspect of our lives where ethics and morality are at stake.
Natural Law is how, us, Catholics determine what is right and wrong. It is a gift God instilled in us at birth, the gift of the capacity to reason. Natural law explains how we can trust our instincts when seeking for the genuine good and truth.
The natural law is present in anyone and everyone who seeks to find the meaning of being human. Opening Prayer Heavenly Father:You are a marvelous and gracious God! You do not treat us as our sins deserve.  We thank you for the written word that you continually write on the tablet on our hearts so that by them we may live and not die.  Thank you for the forgiveness of our sins, we will display mercy and forgiveness toward those who would sin against us. Father we know you are in control of every good thing and every bad thing may we lean on you for all that we do in all circumstances.Thank you for filling us with your wisdom that creates in us strength through the power of Christ in us.  Your word states you hate pride and arrogance and perverse talk from the lips.  We will guard our heart because it is the wellspring of life.   We will watch our words.  May the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable, you are our rock and our redeemer.  We will commit, submit, and delight in you.  In Jesus name we pray…Amen Key Terms Common good: the general well-being of all within society. Inclination: natural disposition towards a perceived good. Related to passions. Law: the judgment of a lawmaker about the means necessary to promote and protect the common good. Maxim: a general truth or rule of conduct. Moral principle: basic truths used to determine rules of conduct. In moral reasoning, principles are used to measure moral obligation or to determine how to act in particular situations. Natural law: the original moral sense which enables people to discern by reason what is good and what is evil, what is true and what is a lie. Norm: norms are guides for action. They come in form of laws, rules, principles, commandments, and maxims. They come with varying degrees of obligation. Obligation: Something you are bound to do by duty; your responsibility. Passion: feelings, desires or emotions. Morally speaking, they are neither good nor evil in themselves, but are morally good when they contribute to a good action, and morally evil when they contribute to an evil action. Proverb: a brief, popular saying or adage containing a nugget of wisdom. Rule: a prescribed guide for conduct or action. Focus Your Learning Cognitive What are norms, laws, and rules? Norms, laws, and rules are similar but they each have their own distinct characteristics. Norms are habits of a group of people. They are patterns that exist within society and they categorize what normal or average is. Norms are what the expected behavior is in situations. Laws and rules are almost one in the same; they are both statements or instructions that are given to the public in order to maintain a controlled environment to help protect the common good for all. Laws are more necessary to follow than rules, which is the only real difference, the severity. Practical How do norms function in promoting and protecting the good life? The way norms function in promoting and protecting the good life is by creating a structured and somewhat organized world where almost everything is possible. The theologists like Kant say that the good life is reached when you follow your duty and you have to be free and able to follow your duty. Norms in society make this possible. So to be able to achieve the good life norms have to be achieved and followed first and foremost. Affective The psalmist writes, “Lead me in the path of your commandments for I delight in it…” How can rules and laws be a source of delight? Rules and laws can be a source of delight because without them we would be living in chaos. In chaos everything is too crazy to even think about or fit in delight, there’s no room for happiness in chaos. Rules and laws create a structure in the world where anything that is delightful can be found and achieved. Review Questions 1. Explain the distinctions between norms, laws, and rules. Norms, laws, and rules are very similar the major distinction is the severity of their importance. Laws are crucial to follow; they are in place to protect the common good and everyone within their jurisdictions. Rules are along the same lines but the obligation to follow them are less crucial, still necessary, but the consequences of breaking a rule do not come close to that of breaking the law. Laws are things like you shall not kill, and rules are simpler things like no running in halls, the difference in severity is very obvious. Norms are then the results of laws and rules. They are the habits of society, a society that obliges by the laws and rules. For example a norm is waiting for the light to turn green before driving through an intersection, it is normal for people to do that which is how the concept of driving works well. 2.Describe the relationship between passions and inclinations on the one hand, and norms, laws, and rules on the other. Passions and inclinations are wants and needs, feelings, desires, and emotions. They are neither good nor bad in themselves but acting on them is where morality comes into play. Norms, laws, and rules are what help to determine whether these actions are morally good or bad. When acting on an inclination or passion if the action obeys the norms, laws and rules of society then they are morally right and if not they are immoral. The relationship between these terms is that when they come together they become a process, linked by action. A process of determining if your desires are good or bad. 3.How is “natural law” a moral principle, and not a law like other laws? Natural law is a moral principle instead of a law like other laws because it is something every person is born with. It is one of the gifts God gives us at birth. Natural law is the ability we have as individuals to reason about what is morally right and wrong. It is not necessary for us to be told what to do like laws do; it is a law within your conscience. A law about personal and individual morality. 4.Write a brief essay on why the moral principle of “concern for the most vulnerable members of society” is a key part of Christian moral teaching. The Christian moral teaching shows us that taking care of the more vulnerable members of society is important because everyone has a right to life.
The church proposes that preference be given to the poor so that everyone has a good chance at life.
Everyone knows the saying you are only as strong as your weakest link, the vulnerable (e.g. the sick, the poor, the homeless) are these links in society, we need to help them to create a better society for all.
As Christians we need not be selfish, we need to help those less fortunate.
The Christian moral teaching shows us that through institutions we will live the good life, this includes the vulnerable on the margins of these institutions. 5.Using your daily news media develop a creative presentation on how rules and laws are needed to protect and promote the common good of your community. I found a story in the Toronto Star about a teacher in Scarborough that has been charged with 42 counts of sexual assault and exploitation. The laws in place to deal with such matters are crucial in society. This was an elementary school teacher. No one should be sexually assaulted especially young children, and the fact that this happened in an institution such as a school is revolting. Every child should be able to go to school and feel safe there, it is hard to know what a person might do just by how they present themselves, which is why laws with severe consequences are put in place to show that behaviour like this is unacceptable. 6.Drawing on the Book of Proverbs and on conventional wisdom, develop a creative presentation of moral maxims for young people today. Doing homework everyday keeps the teachers away.
Memorizing isn't learning.
Learning doesn't just happen inside the classroom.
The uniform brings people together.
Pay attention or you'll get detention.
Come to grips with your uniform slips.
Make mistakes while you can.
Put everything into Grade 12, make it count.
Come to school mentally as well as physically.
Put yourself into your work. 7. Explore how your school rules contribute to the common good of your school community. What improvements would you recommend, and why? School rules contribute to the common good of our school community by creating an environment that feels safe and is safe to learn in. For example one of the purposes of the school uniform is even for our safety; with the uniform it is very easy to pick out who doesn’t belong and who shouldn’t be in our school. This tactic helps teachers and principals keep us all safe as possibly dangerous trespassers are easy to identify. Rules and laws are put in place to keep people safe. Even in schools. An improvement I would like to see in school is bringing back the exemption rule for exams. This rule helps protect the marks of students that have been working hard to get high marks as when exams come around these students have to get nearly perfect on exams just to keep their marks where they are. Ex: The right to education in Canada is for the common good. Ex: Parents are more inclined (more likely) to protect a child. Ex: There are many types of passions; passion for sports, music, learning, etc. Ex: The Golden Rule:
Treat others as you would like to be treated. Ex: The 10 Commandments Ex: The use of your conscience. Ex: People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Ex: Your obligation of a student is to go to class and do your homework. Ex: At Catholic High Schools, students are to be in uniform at all times. Ex: It is against the law to steal. Ex: Saying "thank you" is a norm, as we are expected to show appreciation when being helped. Bible Passage - Roman 13: 1-7 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Reflection The Bible reading I choose is relevant in the way that it discusses what needs to be met to achieve the common good. It explains how everyone should oblige to what the authority have to say as God has appointed the rules and laws they enforce, which will bring us all toward the common good. The opening prayer talks about one of the gifts God has given us, the ability to reason. He has given us Natural Law (which is an important section in this chapter). The prayer thanks Him for this gift and it touches on the rules and laws He has set for us, which we are happy to oblige by as only good will come of it. It touches on all the major aspects of chapter 8. Norms are standards of judgment about the way people should act and who they should be.
Norms are guides for action (laws, rules, principles, commandments, maxims).
Norms bring a sense of duty and obligation because they are declared by an authority, they are reasonable, they involve our freedom, and they direct our inclinations and desires. Laws are the highest expression of a norm for action. Laws have 5 Requirements:
1. A lawmaker
2. A specific directive action
3. A consideration of the common good
4. A specific group of people for whom the law is intended
5. Obligation
The laws of nature and physics are exempted from this list (they do not meet all of these requirements) Key Thinkers Plato Richard Gula Immanuel Kant Thomas Aquinas Thomas Aquinas argues that obligation to follow rules and laws come from reason and the fact that following them will bring about the common good.
His definition of law is “a reasonable decision promulgated by a competent authority for the common good”.
To be reasonable laws had to be just (equality for all), had to be possible to keep (realistic), had to be useful (if not useful it is harmful).
First principle of law: “Do good and avoid evil.” Kant’s thoughts on obligation were the opposite of Thomas Aquinas. He thought morality was where people act out of a duty and obligation they set for themselves, everyone was their own authority. You are not obliged by others but only to yourself.
Kant’s famous maxim stated to never treat someone as a means but as an ends, as our Christian maxim of Jesus’ Golden rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you”. Thought that people ought not to be ruled by their passions and inclinations but by their reason as it should regulate these desires. Closing Prayer Lord, you teach us to remember that all life is sacred, that no one is better or less than the other, that no one is undeserving of dignity and respect.

Indeed, we are wonderfully made!

We pray that we may respect all human life through our attitudes, words, and actions.

Amen. Why are Laws Important? Introduction Euthanasia Where do you stand on this issue? There are 5 types of euthanasia: Active vs. Passive, Voluntary vs. Involuntary, and Doctor Assisted Suicide.
Which of these could you agree with, if any? Euthanasia Woman goes to court in historic euthanasia case A 30-year-old woman who is terminally ill has launched a campaign to overturn Britain's euthanasia laws by compelling her doctors to increase her dose of morphine and let her die.Kelly Taylor lives in constant pain with a congenital heart defect and a spinal disorder. She says she has struggled with her condition all her life and wants release. She has been told she has a year to live but doctors have been unable to control her pain."Enough is enough," she said yesterday. "I don't want to suffer any more. I'm not depressed - I've never been depressed. I am a happy person. But my illness is now at the point where I don't want to deal with it any more."Her case is believed to be unique in launching a double-pronged challenge to the law that forbids doctors from helping patients to end their lives. She wants the court to rule that doctors may sedate her and then withdraw tube feeding so that she dies.
The only treatment for Mrs Taylor's Eisenmenger's syndrome, which leaves her short of breath, is a heart and lung transplant, but she has become too frail for the operation. Her spinal condition, Klippel-Feil syndrome, restricts her mobility.Last December, Mrs Taylor, who is looked after at home in Bristol by her husband, Richard, asked her doctors to increase her dose of morphine sharply. She had been receiving monthly prescriptions of the drug, to induce a deep, coma-like state of sedation, so that she no longer felt pain. She also made a living will asking doctors not to feed or hydrate her artificially.Her doctors - a cardiologist, palliative care consultant and GP from Bristol Royal Infirmary and St Peter's Hospice - refused her request, saying that it amounted to euthanasia.
Mrs Taylor said: "My consultant has told me that he does not expect me to live for another year. In that time I will deteriorate and that deterioration will become quite undignified. I want to avoid that."Last July, she attempted to starve herself to death but abandoned her effort after 19 days. She also considered going to the Swiss assisted suicide clinic, Dignitas, which has helped more than 60 British patients die. But she disliked the idea of relatives having to face police investigations."I don't want to die in a foreign country, I want to die at home. While I have respect for people who go over there, it shouldn't be necessary. We should have a law over here," she said.Her lawyers, Leigh Day and Co, say her doctors have a duty to provide her with adequate pain control even where it shortens her life. The case is expected to focus on whether increasing the morphine dose can be justified in this way or whether it amounts to an assisted death.A consultant in palliative care said "terminal sedation" was carried out but only when death was imminent - within a week or two. "This girl is up and about. She may have a terminal diagnosis in the sense that she is not expected to recover but she is not dying. I would find it very difficult to say this was about symptom control." Put yourself in her shoes, what would you have done? Why is it that euthanasia is illegal in Canada? Does it follow the criteria of a law? In this specific case what would the Catholic Church have to say? There are 2 ways of looking at natural law. Richard Gula accepts both of these theories. One is the natural law is all about the physical and bioloigical structures and processes in nature, and the other is all about the human capacity to discover through experience what is good for humanity.
Richard Gula proposed a simplified version where the 2 come together.
Richard Gula thought Jesus was the moral norm, do as Jesus did. By: Meghan Fragis
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