4.1.3 Classification of Moral Influence

This section on the classification of moral influence describes how it is treated in this book, and it acts as an overview of the chapter.

The previous two sections have described how other people exert power over us to affect our behaviour (4.1.1), and defined terminology around religion, atheism, and secularity  (4.1.2).  The following segments look at how moral power is put into practice:

(4.2)   The origins of people’s moral values are examined – tracing the way in which people are influenced as they develop a conscience which then partly governs their future behaviour.  Upbringing, religion, philosophy, negotiated human rights and cultural pressures are all identified as possible influences.

(4.3)   In addition to being governed by conscience, people’s behaviour can be governed by direct moral pressure – particularly from the groups they belong to: familial, cultural and social.  Most people want to be part of a group, so they conform with its expectations on how to behave.  These moral pressures affect people’s political affiliations and can drive them to take political action.

(4.4)   The most intractable moral problem is living together in peaceful pluralism, in such a way that people don’t clash with others whose culture might be different.  This requires agreement on standards of behaviour and constraints on what people say to each other.

At this point, readers who are just seeking an overview of this book’s contents may wish to move to the next chapter (5).  Alternatively, they may wish to go directly to a particular segment by following the above links or continue to read sequentially.


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This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/413a.htm