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Reflections on Ethics 32
The Source of Morality

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Early man discovered there are benefits to living in a community. Previously unattainable tasks become possible by working together. Specialization means higher quality goods. More people means better defence against outsiders. There are greater entertainment and leisure opportunities. It is easier to encounter members of the opposite sex and assess them for relationship possibilities.

But, to live in a community requires a spirit of mutual respect, a respect for what belongs to others, particularly the life and property of those within the community.

The larger the community, the greater the benefits. This also means a greater number of people whose rights we have to mutually respect. And over time, our sense of community has grown from immediate family to village; from village to city state; from city state to nation. Ideally, our human community should encompass every living person on Earth.

The cost of living in a society is that we give up our right to kill and steal; one of the benefits of living in a society is that the other members have given up their rights to kill us, or steal from us.

The cost and benefit of living in a society is the "golden rule," in any of its many forms:

Behave towards others as you would like them to behave toward you.

Humans are a social animal. That is genetic. So in a way, our genes in part determine our morality. We have to behave reasonably towards our neighbours to live in a community. And through growing up in a community, then community moral standards get implanted in us at an early age. So our environment contributes to determining our morality.

Perhaps this is a simplistic view, but not as simplistic as a problematic deity dictating the rules for some mythical character to transcribe several thousand years ago.

The source of morality is not a god.

The source of and the achievement of morality is society, or community.