Iris Murdoch Questions and Answers

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In the essay “Morality and Religion,” Iris Murdoch implies 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. Should morality follow the “rules” approach of the Ten Commandments? Or is there a more flexible, “realistic” alternative?

In the essay "Morality and Religion," Iris Murdoch discusses the relationship between morality and religion's role in shaping it. An approach based on values allows a more flexible approach to morality than lists of rules. Since these rules are themselves subject to values-based critiques, the rules become superfluous.

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Iris Murdoch observed that in the nineteenth century, even writers who disagreed with the prevailing notion of morality based on divine command lived within it, as a fish swims through water. In the twentieth century, however, all moral systems appear contingent and flexible. This appearance of flexibility may be a question of rules existing in a hierarchy, with minor rules which can be broken when they conflict with more major rules. However, it may also be indicative of an approach to morality based on values.

It is clear that many elements of...

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