The moral core of an individual is the extent to which that person will apply his or her notions of morality. It is centered around the individual and can be extended to include other people or groups. The individual sees these others within the moral core as deserving to be treated in the same way the individual personally wants to be treated.
The moral core is a principle that can determine how an individual applies particular moral values and beliefs. It is described in some theories of ethics as the limits to the rationality of ethics itself. From this perspective, morals are considered primarily aesthetic notions and not seen as directly sharable.
Persons who fall outside of an individual's moral core are not covered by that individual's notions of morality and do not enjoy its protections. Thus, the concept of a moral core can serve to explain apparent hypocrisy in people who claim to have particular ethical principles. For example, it might be used to explain why someone whose religion forbids murder can nevertheless support involvement in war or imposition of the death penalty for certain crimes. According to this theory, the people whose killing can be justified somehow fall outside the individual's moral core.
A moral core is presumed to be formed by experience, including especially parental moral examples, and the slow growth via cognition of a set of conditionings, inhibitions, and concepts of beauty through his or her entire lifetime. Although it may be demonstrated to train or inspire others, it cannot be shared in any way, and is constantly changing.
Some theories of morality, notably moral relativism, but also branches of theology, hold that there is little value in attempting to share moral cores or even to align moral choices except to the bare minimum needed to prevent conflict.
The opposite belief, imposing various degrees of standardization via a moral code and its enforcement, usually in a legal system, is that such cores either can be shared or are irrelevant to the process of social control and learning proper conduct.
Last updated: 08-04-2005 23:11:32