The case for a defined Moral Compass
Despite the huge emphasis placed on ethics and moral values in society, few people are able to define or list their core ethical principles.
Yet, the case is constantly being made by society for a unifying set of core principles. Not simply for ethics in the broadest sense, but for clear fundamental principles that can be defined and applied.
The entreaties are by now all to familiar: "...fundamental, shared values...", "...basic principles...", "...a clear commitment to shared morals...", "...a common framework of ethics...", "...some workable common ground of values...", "...a core of common ethics...", but even the most relentless advocates are careful never to actually state what core values are, and seem to balk at even the possibility of a clear definition.
People are increasingly aware that making the case for the necessity of clear ethical principles is inconsistent with arguing that core ethics are impossible to define. There is an obvious credibility gap in the message, "Core ethical principles are a consensus on basic, ethical precepts, but it is quite impossible to define what they are." If the argument is to be made for a unifying set of core ethics that can be codified and understood, they require to be defined.
The result is that the necessity of standing by ethical principles is substantially undermined by the lack of any agreement on what these ethical principles actually are. When people are asked, "What are your ethical principles?", they have no defined Moral Compass to refer to.
The necessity of clear definition is exactly the process undergone in the creation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the European Convention on Human Rights. For the philosophers long argued that Human Rights were impossible to codify or define.
In all civilisations people intuitively understand what is meant by "common decency and good citizenship", and as individuals, we define ourselves and are in turn are defined by our principles and responsibilities. People show impressive qualities of co-operation, altruism, generosity and compassion towards one another, otherwise there wouldn't be families or societies.
Working from this basic assumption and after wide-ranging consultation with numerous ethical and philosophical organisations both in the UK and abroad, the Centre for Defined Ethics has found that there is a remarkable agreement on basic fundamental values around the world - a shared ethic.
Using applied analytical frameworks and critical thought, the Centre has arrived at a mutual consensus on a list of fundamental core ethics that have been discovered and identified.
A defined Moral Compass leads to personal empowerment. By providing a clear route through societies increasingly complex ethical dilemmas it enables individuals to have the moral courage to stand for what is right. It does this by applying consistent defined principles to ethical problems, rather than applying "the best of intentions", which are expressions of personal preference and not necessarily ethical.
Uniting people around a defined Moral Compass can be a first critical stage in conflict resolution by creating trust between individuals and communities.
If society is unwilling to unite around a consensus on certain absolute norms, and if the arguments against defined core ethics in favour of moral relativism continue to hold credence. Then without a shared ethic, our very survival as a global community is at stake.
Society is at a critical ethical cusp, for if we fail to build a clear definition of core ethical principles, ethics will embrace the ephemeral restraints of moral and cultural relativism and degenerates into widely differing "opinions" of what is right. The result will be an ideal scenario for conflict, a deep-rooted culture of suspicion and a lack of basic trust in society.
In an increasingly radicalised world, a core Moral Compass promotes the intellectual idea of a moral vision that's based on a worldcentric vision and the necessity for care towards each other. It is only through defined ethics that it is possible to move ethical principles forward, to a common shared Moral Compass for the 21st century.
Back to the New Site
'Celebrating our Common Moral Compass'
Aims of the Centre
The Moral Compass
The Case for a defined Moral Compass
The Rules behind the Moral Compass
Frequently Asked Questions
Moral principles defined: a decision-making perspective