Home >> Morality >> Social code and morality

Social code and morality

Several writers identify morality with social code. Notable among are Durkheim and Sumner who believe that things are good or bad if they are so considered by society or public opinion. Durkheim stated that we do not disapprove of an action because it is a crime but it is a crime because we disapprove of it. According to Sumner mores having the authority of fact are the only criteria of right and wrong. It means that there is nothing good or bad intrinsically but is made so by society and that morality depends upon social opinion. Man does distinguish between the breach of moral code and that of social conventions.

If one does not maintain silence in a social gathering he would not feel shame of the same kind. The breaking of social code may sometimes bring satisfaction and honour.Should the doctor tells the truth to a patient that he will not survive? In such case one would feel satisfaction in not following the moral code. The identification of the moral with the social would lead to the conclusion that all the sacrifices of mankind for justice, peace and love are tragic delusions for which no real justification can be held.

It would lead to situations in which neither the moral nor the social have definite meaning. In such a case of identification there would be no morality in society. Though social code deals with external and superficial matters it does not mean that there is no need of it in society and that moral code alone is just and sufficient. Without it the burden of decision would be unbearable and vagaries of conduct utterly distracting. The social code affords a solid foundation on which man can deal with man. They reveal to him both his likeness to and his unity with his fellows. They bring home to him his membership in the group, his present hour of participation in the continuity of the past and future of the human race and his unit of contribution to the life of the whole society.