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Why Be Moral?

Tara Smith

Presented at: Lyceum 1997

Date: Aug 09, 1997

One cannot know how to live morally until one knows the purpose of morality. This course surveys major historical answers to the question: "Why be moral?" We focus on three schools of thought: Rationalism, the view that reason demands allegiance to morality; Contractarianism, the view that morality is the product of social agreement; lntuitionism, the view that moral obligation is the given, an irreducible primary. In each case, discussion centers around prominent advocates of these views, such as Kant and Hobbes. Dr.Smith diagnoses the key errors in these theories, and contrasts Ayn Rand's explanation ofwhy men need a moral code. Smith also traces the implication ofRand's theory for the widely alleged "is-ought" gap and the objectivity of moral judgments.



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