Moral Evasion

We seems to have no doubts about our “rights”, yet our sense of right and wrong is badly bruised.

The most precious elements which bind society together – the family, the belief in individual duty and decency, our common morality – are under attack from the cyncism and fatalism of some opinion-formers.

Too many protagonists and participants in ethical debates seek, through the media, to misrepresent the issues before us, or to avoid responsibility for their own conduct, or to discredit by use of falsehood those whose arguments they disapprove of. Some of the evasions which are used are intended to paralyse debate itself. At one extreme, it is said that nothing can any longer be done about our moral condition. Or, at another extreme, that nothing needs to be done about it, since there is nothing fundamentally at fault in our moral condition in the first place.

Questions about the ‘moral order’ deserve to stand at the centre of public and political controversy in the coming period. But first, as moral confusion increases, we must examine how language and argument are being misused and abused.

David Selbourne - Thursday, 8th December, 1988