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Is Morality Necessary?

Morality and anarchy

D1 'Is morality necessary?' - to this question I return. It is a focus for my thoughts. I do not need to know the answer, I don't even particularly want to know the answer, but it serves as a focus. I return to it from time to time to show my good intent, and if I continue for long enough I may eventually, almost by accident, write sufficient about morals to put together an essay.

D2 Since I myself asked the question of myself I am in a position to elucidate its meaning a little more clearly. I did not mean, for example, 'is it necessary to be moral?'. The question embodies certain assumptions about the nature of morality in a special way. The morality referred to is an institution of human societies. The assumption is that it makes some sense to talk about differing societies some of which have 'a morality' or an 'ethical code' and some of which do not. (and that assumption looks rather like the assumption that it is not logically necessary that human societies have such a thing) I don't in fact want to assume quite that much.

D3 The question is related to the problem of 'anarchy', using that tern in a philosophical sense rather than the popular senses. There is a long standing tradition on the fringe of political philosophy of anarchist thought. An anarchist position does not necessarily involve amoralism, but it might. The anarchist is anti-authoritarian, he believes that it is not necessary for the smooth functioning of society that any individual should be subject to the will of others. Now if a broad enough view of 'subject to the will of' is taken this anarchist doctrine becomes the sort of amoralism about which I want to enquire. There are ways and ways of getting people to act 'properly'. At one end of the spectrum of means is brute force, at the other end there is simple faith. In between these two there is the sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle, coercion embodied in a moral system.


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