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INTRODUCTION Traditional morality is a set of rules and beliefs about appropriate social behaviour which have evolved to facilitate and improve social life Most people feel that morality is somehow more than this They think its not merely something thats developed in response to human needs but that its true in itself a sort of law of nature like the laws of Physics and Chemistry This attitude is often generated and sustained by religious belief but its a view also held by many non-believers However when we question accepted ideas and discard those that arent supported by evidence and reasoning we can find no basis for this concept of morality as somehow part of the natural world And on the other hand because we can so easily see how morality would have evolved to meet human social needs its easy to let go of the customary notion However those who seek to base their ideas on reason and experience alone still accept and support traditional morality simply because its essential to life in society Nevertheless when we give up the customary understanding of the nature of morality it does change our attitudes to ethical matters and this essay is about these consequential changes WHERE TRADITIONAL MORALITY CAME FROM Traditional morality evolved to promote the welfare of the family the tribe and the community Its basic ideas developed long ago and theyve been passed on and elaborated ever since And like all ideas handed down between generations theyve gathered the progressively increasing authority of tradition Though obeying its rules is often against our immediate self-interest this is their very point most of us benefit if people generally obey them Even animals enforce rules of behaviour for the same purpose In personal relationships and in society generally accepted morality fosters harmony co-operation and good order It oils the wheels of society making life easier for everyone
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