The moral is a set of norms, beliefs, values and customs that direct or guide the behavior of people in society. Morality allows to distinguish which actions are correct (good) and which are incorrect (bad). Another perspective is defined as the knowledge of what man must do or avoid to maintain social stability.


The term “moral” has the opposite meaning of “immoral” (against morality) and “amoral” (without morality). The existence of actions and activities susceptible of moral evaluation is based on the human being as subject of voluntary acts. It covers the action of people in all its manifestations, in addition to allowing the introduction and reference values .

The concepts and beliefs about morals come to be considered and coded according to culture , religion , group, or other scheme ideas, which have the function of regulating the behavior of its members. Compliance with these codifications can also be known as moral and society is considered to depend on the widespread use of it for its existence.

There are various definitions and conceptions of what morality really means, and this has been the subject of discussion and debate over time. Multiple opinions agree that the term represents that which can distinguish between good and evil two acts, while others say they are only customs are assessed virtuous or pernicious.

The concept of moral differs from moral philosophy or ethics that the latter reflects rationally on various moral schemes in order to find rational principles that determine the ethically correct actions and ethically wrong actions, ie, ethics seeks absolute principles or universal , independent of the moral of each culture.


All societies have a set of behaviors, which are the core of a moral conception widely shared by the individuals in the group. In the West it has been particularly important moral conception of religions such as Judaism , and Christianity . In the East the Confucianism or Buddhism have also exerted a strong influence on the moral core of Asian societies.

While it is often traced Western moral reflection, to what was said by the Greco – Roman schools, where morality taught in the form of practical precepts, moral reflection was particularly important in Egyptian antiquity judging by the large number of texts of moral character Which have survived. In the Greco – Roman antiquity , numerous texts were developed such as the Maxims of the Seven Sages of Greece , the Golden Verses of poets of Greece ; Or in the form of apologetics and allegories until later it was clothed with a philosophical character.

The ancient Romans granted to the mores maiorum ( ‘habits of the elderly’, the customs of their ancestors set in a continuing series of judicial precedents) paramount importance in the legal life, insomuch that for more than two centuries (approximately up II BC) century. was the chief among the sources of law . His endures through those precedents coding in a text that comes to us as the force Twelve Tables , made around 450. C.

It occupies an important place in the teachings of Pythagoras , Socrates , Plato , Aristotle , Epicurus and, above all, among the Stoics ( Cicero , Seneca , Epictetus , Marcus Aurelius , etc.). The Neoplatonists were inspired by Plato and the Stoics fell into mysticism. The moderns have deepened and completed the theories of the ancients. 3

Origins of morality 

Many scientists believe that ethics is a product of natural selection, which is considered to have retained social behaviors conducive to the evolutionary success of groups. Animal societies show many examples of cohesion based on instinctive submission to what appear to be unwritten laws. The ancestors of the primitive groups human species had certainly an organization of this type, with the development of brain faculties, gradually transformed into the institution of explicit laws, and respect to them. The societies that were granted laws and applied them proved to be more capable of surviving and proliferating than those freed to anarchy and savage competition among its members.

This idea was expanded Edward O. Wilson , a biologist at Harvard , under the name of sociobiology , to embrace the whole human social fabric. 5 According to Wilson, who summarized his views in an important work, Consilience, 6 our entire system of values, including beliefs, virtues and norms related to them, it is the product of evolutionary chance. The system exists simply because it proved to be useful for the evolutionary success of the groups that practiced it.

Many philosophers and social scientists have vigorously opposed sociobiology for various reasons. Some see in it vestiges of social Darwinism , the doctrine defended, especially the English philosopher of the nineteenth century Herbert Spencer , to justify, on the basis of the theory of Darwin , the excesses of laissez faire ( “let do” ) economic. In the view of others, sociobiology exaggerates the role of genetic determinism, to the detriment of environmental influences, and promotes racial and social discrimination. In short, the thesis of a natural origin of ethics is not accepted, of course, by those who believe that moral standards were dictated by God when he gave Moses the tablets of the law on the summit of Mount Sinai .

Leaving aside these polemics charged with ideology, two simple reflections occur. In the first place, it is hardly arguable that societies subject to the laws were more successful than those without law. On the other hand, comparative anthropology clearly shows that laws vary according to peoples and epochs. So natural selection played a part; But what it promoted was the existence of laws, not necessarily the details of its content.

Whatever the origin of our ethical behavior, there is good reason to believe that with the development of the brain, morality has progressively evolved from a purely pragmatic and utilitarian form to a more abstract conception of good and evil. Most civilizations distinguish between laws, dictated by considerations of coexistence, and ethical norms, based on absolute values. These remain arbitrary to some extent, as shown, for example, major debates on bioethics . But the same distinction between good and evil seems to be deeply in human nature .

Approaches to moral 

Moral philosophy 

It is usually defined as the philosophical theory of moral behavior, that is, free and responsible human behavior. It is also called ethics . The philosophical materialism rectifies this definition and considers that ethical / moral distinction is not parallel to the distinction theory / praxis , but is established based on the distributive or attributive consideration of human subjects in their normative dimension.

Philosophical morality is possessed by those who practice behavior according to their philosophical principles; on the other hand, it is not possessed by one who speaks in one form and acts in another. Example:

There are many who practice what I say and not what I do.

Moral and ethical 

Several authors consider these terms synonymously because their etymological origins are similar, although others do not consider morality and ethics as the same, as is the case of Spanish philosopher Gustavo Bueno . Some poses conceive of ethics as a set of rules suggested by a philosopher or from a religion, while a “moral” is designated him the degree of compliance that individuals accorded to the prevailing standards in the social group. Not all agree with this distinction, and that is why in a practical sense, both terms are used interchangeably, and often not distinguish between the two concepts, making them equivalent.

The nuance that defines them is in the observation or practical application of the norm that implies the ethical mandate. Therefore, the ethical norm will always be theoretical, while the moral or custom will be its practical application. [ Citation needed ] According to this view, morality is based on the values that dictates the conscience , which in turn is based on learned habits. This point of view says that morality is not absolute or universal, since its validity depends on the customs of a region, from here would come the cultural relativism.

Furthermore, the universality of a moral system is one of the objectives of ethics-objective whose content or effect is not considered relative or subjective , but effective and applicable to every rational man under a certain context, as long as the agent capable Of behavior can act in a rational way, understood as that in which all human beings can agree when they decide to look for a specific moral behavior that is judged “of good” or “correct”, that maintains or causes acceptable quality of life or Avoid some inconvenient consequence, and arise because of the repetition of certain probable behaviors for humanity). Immanuel Kant , through its categorical imperative – made the attempt to base an objective moral born of reason and beyond religion . One of the main reasons to object to their reasoning, is the mandatory use of truth and duty excluding feel 7

The critique of Friedrich Nietzsche to the moral and ethical stresses that moral and ethical codes studying or underlying these moral codes are presented as skinners deep truths about the human being.

His analysis of Christian morality is famous in that he shows how Christian values, for example, humility, or compassion, are really based on hypocrisy and resentment (according to his theory). Moral values are stratagems of mastery of some men for others. But no moral and no ethics recognize this because it is essential for them to conceal it. To discover these concealments Nietzsche proposes a method which he calls “genealogical”. Embark on a ” genealogy of morals “. It is about making psychological and language analysis based on ethical and moral texts and observations of moral behavior. For Nietzsche in his work On the Genealogy of Morality he tells us that moral and ethical to pose as “true” and “universal” values are “moral of slaves”. His proposal entails the total creative freedom of each man in the strictest sense, in a sense similar to the one applied when speaking in the contemporary art of an artist’s freedom. The “morality of lords” refuses to elaborate a list of values that are enforceable to others. Each man has to fulfill his desires and let the desires of others express themselves, without previous real codes.

Moral theology

In Christianity there is an area of study theology that considers the moral as determining what dictates the bad and the good. In this area, the moral evil is understood as sin , injustice , evil , that which is opposed to the moral good , understood as the will of God , the holy , the justice , the goodness . This belief, characteristic of the Christian faith , considered immoral acts as offenses against God, which involves the separation between man and Him, and that break the necessaries of life order. 8 9

Christians do consider morality as something universal , because in the Bible it is described that all men (even the Gentiles ) have written in their hearts law 10 one natural law which was given by God, which is manifested as a morality innate , and is the spiritual root of consciousness human. November December 13

It is also considered that the existence of immorality, as a phenomenon, is the result of the free will of man, by which God gave humans the ability to decide or choose freely between good and evil, and likewise, between blessing or curse . 14

Objective moral 

The set of moral standards is called objective morality , because these rules exist as social facts whether an individual wants to abide or not. Moral acts come from the conviction that the action of an individual is always performed for certain purposes and that anyone who does something must do it for an end, unless he does not control his reason, as in various situations. However, the realities sociological suggest that people usually act by inertia, custom, tradition or unreasoning called “mob mentality”.

Opposite this position of self-justification is the acceptance, on the part of the individual, of its responsibility. Using moral values can become the architect of your own destiny or a better fate.

Throughout history, and of different cultures, there have been different visions of morality. Generally, morality is applied to fields in which the choices made by individuals express an intention relative to other individuals; Even non-members of society. Therefore, there is an academic dispute about whether morality can exist only in the presence of a society or also in a hypothetical individual unrelated to others. Morality is also measured when the person is alone, not being observed by anyone, for example, in situations where it is required to have a lot of integrity.

Morales dichotomies 

Autonomy and heteronomy 

A conception of morality may tend toward any of the possible directions in a given field. In fact, moral exist that recommend certain restrictions on behavior ( heteronomy ) and there are moral recommending a completely self – determination ( autonomy ) and a variety of intermediate positions.

Immoral and amoral

Within the concept of moral two other concepts that are each in their own way, antonyms and should not be confused arise. One is ‘ immoral ‘, which refers to any behavior or person who violates a specific moral or social morality. When it is said that a person acts immorally, it means that he is acting incorrectly, doing wrong.

On the other hand, the concept of “amoral” or amorality, refers to a position in which people are considered devoid of morals, so they do not consider human acts or acts to be bad or good, right or wrong. Most defense of amorality performed in the Taoism , which is considered to be the moral corrupts the human being, forcing him to do good things when you are not prepared and forbidding do bad things when you need experience to realize the impact of their Acts. 15 Everything “moral”, they say , it involves forcing the nature of human beings and is the result of distrust and fear of others, what they can do if they are not subject to strict government laws that govern their behavior. 16 The philosopher Maximiliano Korstanje emphasizes the fact that postmodernism has destroyed the moral boundaries of society, denying forgiveness as relationally between individuals. From a perspective, postmodern societies need to “demonize” religions in order to establish symbolic marks on the deviants. In this way, the values of the goods produced acquire greater value. No matter how repentant a person is, “organic” morality is by nature pragmatic, and considers the effects of acts rather than wills. A bad act is simply that which results in an evil about a person, without evaluating the intent of the offender. Pragmatists suggest a simplistic view of morality, where forgiveness corresponds to a permission to continue to act poorly. Korstanje understands that in sedentary societies, pardon is vital to hold society together, and that without it, relationships are subverted to the market, which monopolizes a new ethical form which it calls “organic morality.” The market seeks to optimize profits by reducing costs, and its way of understanding morale goes in the same direction. It is evident (by the media) any “diversion” to increase consumption, and those industries associated with protection and / or security. 17

The human being is a moral being because he has the capacity to choose at the time of action, he is responsible for his actions and is able to evaluate the consequences that derive from them. The moral consciousness is manifested in the question: What should I do? To respond, people must think about the good and the bad. What one person considers good it becomes a moral value . And the moral norms develop and protect those values. Thus, the value of life is protected by the rule “Thou shalt not kill”. Animals are not able to decide reflexively, they do not ask what they should do. His life is outside the realm of morality, so we say that they are amoral. Norms and values are meaningless, because they lack the necessary capabilities. Someone is immoral does not meet the moral standards of the community . 18

Morale in different political-philosophical schools 

There are several positions that propose the nature of ethical norms, some of which are quoted in the following scheme:

  • Sociologism : This view argues that moral norms originate in the society and she receives the strength and stamina to be imposed on individuals.
  • Marxism : In its latest economic writing, Glosas Wagner , Marx beginssaying: “I do not labor of man, but of a given social period”. By this it meant that, as history has proven to be a criterion of truth, as to the different conceptions and forms of human behavior, ethics is not a social category whose normative contents are of absolute, universal (moral) practical validity and eternal, as claimed Kant with his categorical imperative , but these contents are subject to historical relativism of different systems of life that humans divided into classes they were taken in different periods of its existence asspecies, since surpassed the barbarity . Thus, for Marx, there is a morality and a type of human being corresponding to each period of history, as a prehistory of the generic human being liberated from all external, natural or social necessity, which is what is brewing in the morality of The communists. As in the base or material structure of society, where different modes of production configure their respective social formations that have so far corresponded to as many stages or periods of development of the productive forces also different ethical superstructures, moral , Legal, ideological and political, were the periodically changing expression of the interests of the different ruling classes within each of the social formations that have been shaping the progressive periodization characteristic of the economic, social, political, moral and cultural of the Human beings throughout history.
  • Historicism : This position claims that, throughout history and as a varying rate, vital sensitivity of one generation is replaced by another and, according to this process, while principles charge effect, others disappear .
  • Theologism : This current advocates that moral standards have given origin by God . We can find a theological position, relatively often in primitive peoples, for example, the people of Israel , in the village Judeo – Christian and morals of the prophets , in various ancient regions of the Middle East .
  • Theory of natural law : There is a wide plurality of theories that base their ethical views and moral standards in the natural law . Among them, without doubt, the most important is the theory scholasticism , according to which all people possess an identical nature, which is human nature. This keeps a deep relationship of order with the rest of beings and, above all, with God.
  • Moral relativism : A philosophical position that has much acceptance is accepting the relativism of morality,therefore denies the existence of objective moral, imposed by the will of God or the validity of natural laws, but supposed to be It would deal with something purely conventional associated with different cultures, beliefs and times.
  • Objectivism : This philosophical stance argues that the only way to achieve morality is through the use of reason and acceptance of reality objectively, independently of human perception.
  • Anarchism : Anarchist Morality for Piotr Kropotkin through the principle of equality, which the famous phrase “Treat others as you want to be treated” is extracted.

“Moreover, this principle of treating others as one wants to be treated, what is it but the genuine principle of equality, the fundamental principle of anarchy? And how can one come to believe himself anarchist without putting it into practice? Equality is equality. Calling us anarchists we declare in advance that we renounce to treat others as we do not want to be treated by them, that we no longer tolerate inequality, which would allow one of us to exercise violence or The cunning or the skill in the way that we would displease ourselves.But equality in everything – a synonym of equality – is anarchy itself.To the devil the white bear who abrogates the right to deceive the simplicity of others! We want and we suppress it out of necessity.It is not only that abstract trinity of law, religion and authority to which we declare war.We are anarchists, we declare war to be a hoax, cunning, exploitation, depravity, vice, In a word of inequality, which they have poured into the hearts of all of us. We declare war in the way we act and think. The governed, the deceived, the exploited, the prostitute, etc., hurt above all our feelings of equality. In the name of equality, no longer want or prostitutes, or exploited, neither deceived nor governed. ” 19


The most ordinary attributes of morality are a book, a brake and a rule. Usually he paints it with a white dress, a sign of innocence or pure and customs and sometimes arranged under the figure of the goddess Minerva , crowned with a helmet owl , symbol of sanity