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Arts & Letters Daily



Introduction: Terms and moral judgements

Moral judgements are not only made of the act, the actor and the interrelationship of the two. Moral judgements are also made about the consequences of the moral or immoral act. For example, moral judgements are made to answer the question: “Did he deserve the reward (punishment)?” or “Can an action be right when a recipient did not deserve the reward or punishment?”

This class of terms and judgements is made up of the representative term ‘deserve‘ plus at least two other terms: ‘worthy‘, and ‘merit‘. “Deserve” is most commonly used. ‘Worthy’ is used mainly with reference to motives and character. For example, ‘He deserves to be punished’ refers to the act of inflicting an object of disinterest on a person. On the other hand, ‘The teacher’s character was worthy of approval’ refers to an attitude of approval towards the character of the teacher. ‘Merit’ is used to refer to the quality of the action as well as actors.

This class of terms includes: deserve, commendable, reprehensible, worth, laudable, contemptible, merit, demerit, praiseworthy, meritorious, deserts, blameworthy, worthy, culpable.

‘Deserve’ can be, and frequently is used in a non-moral sense. An example of the moral sense is: “The good teacher deserves the attention of the class”. An example of the non-moral sense is: The boy who stole the lunch deserves to be punished”.

How to use these resources

  • Read the Dilemma … every Dilemma is focused on issues related to schools because we are all familiar with schools
  • Discuss the Dilemma
  • Consider the view that is presented … it explains and illustrates the terms and judgements used on the moral topic
  • Apply one or more Moral Principal Value Test to the Dilemma (follow the links)
  • View the Dilemma from the persective of all aspects of moral issues: duty, rights, motive, desert and justice (follow the links)
  • Follow the same procedure to discuss issues of your choice
  • Identify and plan a specific Action Plan you or your group is prepared to implement
  • Join in the conversation by leaving your comments in the blog. Click HERE.