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Morality and public policy$
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Clem Henricson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781447323815

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447323815.001.0001

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date: 22 August 2017

Synergies and tensions: morality as an accommodation of human impulses in different cultural contexts

Synergies and tensions: morality as an accommodation of human impulses in different cultural contexts

Chapter:
(p.49) Three Synergies and tensions: morality as an accommodation of human impulses in different cultural contexts
Source:
Morality and public policy
Author(s):

Clem Henricson

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447323815.003.0003

The third chapter considers the interrelationship of these strands of thought - the synergies and tensions in morality, and the need for some element of accommodation in the context of the public policy interface. The contention is made that morality is not a simple promoter of the social instincts, but rather a manager of the human condition. The Darwinian view that empathy is at the core of morality is challenged. The thesis is that this interpretation be replaced by a conception of morality as the manager of numerous impulses across acquisitiveness, status, self-preservation, fear, aggression, the urge to power, sexuality, the search for self fulfilment - as well as empathy, without biologically pre-determined prioritisation. How impulses present are a consequence of habit and ordering by a neurologically identified cognitive function. This does not favour empathy, but is strongly influenced by culture, individual traits and experience. The emerging proposition that morality is concerned with the accommodation of impulses within varied and changing cultural contexts combines a degree of commonality and relativism that, it is argued, would benefit from recognition and synchronisation in the public policy arena.

Keywords:   synergies in morality, tensions in morality, synchronisation, social instincts, human condition, empathy, accommodation of impulses, culture, commonality, relativism

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