How is a position on human nature affected by a specific approach to morality?  For example, how it this position impacted by a moral system that is strict and clear, or one that is permissive,...

How is a position on human nature affected by a specific approach to morality?  For example, how it this position impacted by a moral system that is strict and clear, or one that is permissive, flexible and relativistic?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I tend to think that a moral system has a significant impact on how an individual views human nature. For example, an individual who embraces the relativistic position is more likely to believe that labels such as "good" or "bad" are not applicable to human nature. Armed with a relativistic moral position, the issue of human nature is one in which it becomes difficult to assert whether a human being is a good or bad one.  From a relativist point of view, one might be able to assert a combination position.  Yet, the relativist position seeks to include everything and not exclude on the basis of judgments.  Such a moral position argues realities such as cultural orientation help determine that which is "good" and "bad."  Social construction helps to determine so much in way of what is deemed as right and wrong.  It is in this light where human morality cannot be fully ascertained through individual judgment.  This position is fueled and impacted by the relativist approach to morality.

Conversely, the absolutist moral paradigm plays a decisive role in how individual morality is viewed.  For example, the individual's moral condition is determined by the adherence to an absolute ethical standard.  If an individual abides by that standard, then their moral condition is a good one.  Failure to do so means that their moral condition is fraught with shortcomings.  Being able to determine whether an individual is good is dependent on this absolute standard of conduct.  It is here in which one's view of morality plays a rather decisive role in determining the condition of human nature.

Drawing upon the condition of human nature, a moral approach clearly becomes part of the calculation.  There are other factors which can be integrated into such a configuration.  Yet, in determining the condition of human nature, the moral framework in which one operates becomes vitally important.  This framework helps to configure the role of the individual in the world.  In doing so, the moral system winds up framing the narrative of human nature.  It is this system that plays a very large role in defining the essence of human nature.  The ability to voice judgments or the ability to allow that which is relative is a significant component in defining what humans are and how they are perceived to be in the world.

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