NOTWITHSTANDING THE NON-CONFORMIST views of some philosophers questioning the existence of an eternal, cosmic morality, we commonly hold that society is held together, in a manner of speaking by moral sense which finds reflection in its cultural, political and legal structures.

Laws, government and politics are measured in terms of being either in accord with or in breach of a morality for the promotion or negation of the social good.

Broadly speaking, there appear three approaches to the understanding of the nature and purpose of morality in a social context as set apart from the purely ethical.

In the one case, it is conceived as beliefs and rules of conduct which take sanction from the metaphysical, with the objective of giving meaning and purpose to human life.

Contrarily, morality is viewed as a contingent, socio-cultural construct predicated upon norms aimed at bridling human perspective.

Slavery, feudalism, gender-bias which were accepted as tolerable institutions at certain periods of history became unacceptable as thought and knowledge evolved and with the moral categories defining these institutions.

From around the mid nineteenth century a different approach to understanding morality emerged in Europe conceiving morality as rationalisation for physiological or biological human drives or instincts.

Whatever the divergent approaches to understanding human propriety, there is broad consensus that morality provides an indispensable basis for peaceful and purposeful existence of humans in a collection or a society.

Commonly accepted and observed set of guidelines for individual and social conduct are considered prerequisites for social coherence, purposive cooperation and meaningful progress.

What is good and bad, right or wrong, correct and deviant, valid or errant are like elemental rudders that keep the ship of society on an even keel, stable and strong, battling and overcoming storms of worldly crises - be they political, economic or ideological in nature.

The central issues of our present day predicament lend themselves to many divergent interpretations, some opinionated, others more informed, yet others fired by partisan passions.

But rarely are questions raised about the distinct, growing absence of a commonly agreed moral sense of what is right and what is wrong.

It is this phenomenon, not commonly appreciated or discussed, that poses the real threat to social coherence, meaningfulness, tolerance and progress.

When societies and opinion leaders lose a common moral sense, when they debate issues from contending moral perspectives, the community teeters on moral and social anarchy. People lose their shared compass of right and wrong. Each person or group becomes a law unto themselves.

MODERN day means of propaganda aimed at changing sub-consciously-led conduct and opinions pose a serious threat to society. It can lead to abjuring a unified, agreed consensual moral standard of judgement and decision making.

One person's or group's right becomes another's wrong.

The Publishing continues. The World Students Society thanks author Sahibzada Riaz Noor. The author has an MA Hons from Oxford University.


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