Page 1 of 10 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 91

Thread: Can thoughts be moral or immoral?

  1. Top | #1
    Elder Contributor
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    19,059
    Archived
    41,943
    Total Posts
    61,002
    Rep Power
    87

    Can thoughts be moral or immoral?

    I am not a regular in this particular subforum, so please excuse this OP if it is duplicative. I am interested in your thinking about this question.

    Do you think thought (or a thought) can be moral or immoral?

    I am not interested in whether there should be punishment or criminal liability for thought but just the basic idea - can a thought be moral or immoral and why?

  2. Top | #2
    Super Moderator ruby sparks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Northern Ireland
    Posts
    9,167
    Rep Power
    26
    Quote Originally Posted by laughing dog View Post
    ....can a thought be moral or immoral....
    In principle, yes. Thinking is an action, arguably a deed.

    If someone hates you, and wants to torture and kill you, and you know it, that causes you harm (distress) even if they never attack you.
    "Let us hope that it is not so. Or if it is, let us pray that the fact does not become generally known."

  3. Top | #3
    Contributor
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Canberra, Australia
    Posts
    7,315
    Archived
    10,974
    Total Posts
    18,289
    Rep Power
    60
    Not even in principle.

    moral

    /ˈmɒr(ə)l/
    Learn to pronounce



    adjective
    adjective: moral


    1.
    concerned with the principles of right and wrong behaviour.



    Thoughts are not behaviour.

  4. Top | #4
    Contributor
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Burnsville, MN
    Posts
    5,921
    Archived
    2,911
    Total Posts
    8,832
    Rep Power
    50
    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by laughing dog View Post
    ....can a thought be moral or immoral....
    In principle, yes. Thinking is an action, arguably a deed.

    If someone hates you, and wants to torture and kill you, and you know it, that causes you harm (distress) even if they never attack you.
    I think I will go back to the example I made i PD, as it is equally valid in this side of the forum:

    Thoughts can be immoral.

    Thoughts cannot be unethical.

    One may ask how this is not some kind of bizarre contradiction. It is quite simple insofar as morality can be seen as separate from ethics, as the way you drive your own experience, and exert agency.

    But this is different from ethics insofar as ethics is created by social interaction, with respect to what obligations we have for each other if we would so have others bound to us.

    For a concrete example, let us suppose one day I am accosted by someone on the train who starts screaming bad poetry. This man is black, and from the depths of my mind, I have an invasive thought "what a ------..."

    This is a thought. It is most certainly not the sort of thought a person should want to have. It is so much a thought that I personally do not want to have that I spend the next ten minutes lecturing myself on why such thoughts are inappropriate.

    The fact of the matter is, when a thought of such repugnance is had, a response is warranted.

    But, nobody can punish this racist thought. It wasn't said out loud, was not even expressed in any intentional way. It was not unethical. It did not impose on anyone but me, and it came from me!

    I would rather think that the tendencies of someone who pays no mind to the appropriateness of their thought would not be a good neighbor. I believe some guy named Camus wrote about someone who paid no reflection on his actions, and another named Voltaire had some things to say about such a failure to reflect as well.

    ... I would note that in the example, the obnoxious person was, still, a terrible neighbor.

  5. Top | #5
    Contributor
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Canberra, Australia
    Posts
    7,315
    Archived
    10,974
    Total Posts
    18,289
    Rep Power
    60
    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by laughing dog View Post
    ....can a thought be moral or immoral....
    In principle, yes. Thinking is an action, arguably a deed.

    If someone hates you, and wants to torture and kill you, and you know it, that causes you harm (distress) even if they never attack you.
    If someone hates you, and wants to torture and kill you, and you know it because they told you that in order to cause you distress, they've taken an action to harm you. But it was the making you believe it that harmed you. In fact, their internal thoughts about how much they want to torture and kill you are irrelevant. They might not want to do that at all. The harm was making you believe it was a serious possibility that they'd do it.

    Thoughts are not actions, they are thoughts.

  6. Top | #6
    Super Moderator
    Join Date
    Sep 2000
    Location
    Nevada
    Posts
    31,976
    Archived
    96,752
    Total Posts
    128,728
    Rep Power
    100
    Quote Originally Posted by Metaphor View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by laughing dog View Post
    ....can a thought be moral or immoral....
    In principle, yes. Thinking is an action, arguably a deed.

    If someone hates you, and wants to torture and kill you, and you know it, that causes you harm (distress) even if they never attack you.
    If someone hates you, and wants to torture and kill you, and you know it because they told you that in order to cause you distress, they've taken an action to harm you. But it was the making you believe it that harmed you. In fact, their internal thoughts about how much they want to torture and kill you are irrelevant. They might not want to do that at all. The harm was making you believe it was a serious possibility that they'd do it.

    Thoughts are not actions, they are thoughts.
    This. The immoral action was expressing the thought, not having it.

  7. Top | #7
    Veteran Member Wiploc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver
    Posts
    2,975
    Archived
    14,058
    Total Posts
    17,033
    Rep Power
    73
    Quote Originally Posted by Metaphor View Post
    Thoughts are not behaviour.
    Sure they are.

  8. Top | #8
    Veteran Member Wiploc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver
    Posts
    2,975
    Archived
    14,058
    Total Posts
    17,033
    Rep Power
    73
    Quote Originally Posted by Loren Pechtel View Post
    This. The immoral action was expressing the thought, not having it.
    So lusting in your heart isn't a sin? Nor covetousness?

  9. Top | #9
    Contributor
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Canberra, Australia
    Posts
    7,315
    Archived
    10,974
    Total Posts
    18,289
    Rep Power
    60
    Quote Originally Posted by Wiploc View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Loren Pechtel View Post
    This. The immoral action was expressing the thought, not having it.
    So lusting in your heart isn't a sin? Nor covetousness?
    ...no, of course they are not.

    A sin is a sin because it offends god. And there is no god.

  10. Top | #10
    Elder Contributor
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    19,059
    Archived
    41,943
    Total Posts
    61,002
    Rep Power
    87
    One definition of moral is

    adjective
    adjective: moral

    1.
    concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character.


    It seems to me that means thoughts (since principles are thoughts) can be moral or immoral.

    Again, I am not asking about whether having a particular thought is moral or immoral. Just whether a thought can moral or immoral.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •