Iris Murdoch Questions and Answers

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In the essay “Morality and Religion” by Iris Murdoch, as the title suggests, Murdoch explores the relationship between being moral and religion's role in creating morality. She uses an inductive approach to explore the concept without actually making an argument about the two concepts. Rather, she seeks to explore how the two are interconnected. In keeping with the ideas of your research paper, which require that you define what comprises a functioning society and free will of the individual in relationship to that, answer the following question from your text about Murdoch’s essay:  Murdoch implies at the end of paragraph 3 that certain political complexities suggest there might be a need to have “clear rigid rules” of behavior in order to establish morality. She implies that even clerics are viewing contemporary moral standards as flexible, perhaps alterable in some circumstances. How do you feel? Should morality follow the “rules” approach of the Ten Commandments? Or is there a more flexible, “realistic” alternative? Explain.

In "Morality and Religion," Iris Murdoch guides us to an answer to the question of a rigid rule-based morality versus a more "flexible" realistic alternative. To her, the ideal upbringing indoctrinates a child in religious "axioms" such as the Ten Commandments while also teaching a sense of humor. This way the adult will have both internalized the strict moral precepts necessary for an orderly life along with the flexible character traits that allow for applying morality realistically.

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First let us look at what Murdoch says in "Morality and Religion" in her book Metaphysics a a Guide to Morals. In this chapter, Murdoch makes a case for the superiority of religious training and indoctrination over what she calls the development of non-religious "moral idealism." Given how "abysmally" sinful humans are and how difficult it is to keep "everything in mind" morally, she sees a value in the kind of "clear rigid rules" religion can offer as an way to produce good behavior without having to think through every decision. As she notes, "good decent men lead orderly lives." Imbedded religious principles lead to that kind of orderliness.

Therefore, "moral axioms" are important in establishing...

(The entire section contains 350 words.)

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