Moral Act Definition and Meaning

The Latin term actus came to our language as an act. The word can refer to an event or an action. Moral, as an adjective, qualifies what human beings do according to an analysis of their evil or goodness.

Moral act is called the action that a person develops and that is valued from the ethical level (for his rectitude, honesty, etc.). Although many actions are neutral for ethics, others may carry a moral assessment since they can be defined as negative or positive according to the effects of the act.

Suppose a person, when it starts to rain, decides to take shelter under the sign of a store, which provides protection against drops. This act has no moral consequence: it cannot be judged as negative or positive. The situation changes if the subject, to find refuge under that sign, pushes an old man who was planning to take shelter in the same place. That first action (pushing the old man) leads to the act of taking refuge under the cartel being morally wrong. It is, therefore, an immoral act.

The context often determines that an act is moral or not. In addition, there are other issues that affect the eventual evaluation of the act: if the person understands the consequences of his acts before carrying them out, if he performs them in freedom or under pressure, etc.

But a negative attitude carried out directly by the subject is not always necessary for his actions to be judged under the magnifying glass of morality. Consider a person who works at an animal supply store. Selling cat and dog food and accessories doesn’t seem to be a bad thing (or a good thing); however, if the owners spend part of their income to support a dog fighting business, or if they hide such illegal activity behind a normal and acceptable one, everything changes.

This shows us that although neutral acts exist, those that cannot be considered good or bad, many times the analysis depends on the amount of information, since they can hide a facet that satisfies the requirements of moral judgment.

These nuances are common in judicial processes that seek to solve criminal cases such as murders and rapes, for example, in which the mental health of the accused plays a fundamental role. Although in the eyes of the victim’s relatives, the aggressor will never be a morally acceptable person, psychology indicates that even the most terrible acts of humanity can be committed involuntarily, due to different disorders such as that of Multiple Personality (or Dissociative Identity).

The moral component of the acts, on the other hand, is usually a matter of discussion. A desperate guy who steals to feed her children, does she act well or badly? Is it justified? The assessment of the moral act can vary according to each individual, but the time also influences the judgment: let’s not forget that a decade is enough for an indecent outfit to become part of the fashion.

As well as other issues specific to subjectivity, the moral act exists as long as there are a series of requirements: that someone judge a certain action; who has the knowledge about the principles to carry out such judgment; that there is at least one witness to that assessment. The complexity of ethics is unfathomable, largely because it evolves with each society; different cultures contribute their own points of view, observe and judge reality supported by sometimes opposite principles.

Moral Act

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