Coerced morality

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If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.[1]

Coerced morality is the idea that morals can spring from some force, either physical or mental. Law seeks to create a form of coerced morality, in that a citizen will decide to obey the law, not because of their inherent rightness and the value of morality, but for fear of the consequences. Similarly, religious laws are a form of coerced morality if obeyed only for fear of consequences, such as Heaven or Hell, and not out of personal love for God.

Since coerced morality secures obedience merely out of fear or hope, rather than inherent belief in the normative qualities of morality, coerced morality is a secondary tier of ethics, and someone who is good only out of coercion cannot be said to have resolved personal ethical issues. Nonetheless a form of coercive morality has proven necessary to a steady state society.

References

  1. Albert Einsten
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