Changing One’s Moral Practices
MORALITY is ABOUT action. In fact, this book is all about striving for important human values by performing various practices. The most basic claim is that some activities lead to deep participation in the fundamental human values, other activities are okay but not outstanding, and a smaller number of activities are prohibited because by their very nature they impair our ability to reach or even see clearly the human values we strive to attain. Now that we have reached the final chapter, what should one expect as the primary take-away?
After urging the r eader to r econceive or reimagine the way h e thinks of something, one can expect a reader to reflect on the arguments advanced and then decide how to proceed. The moral life is a bit different, however. In most circumstances, one does not change practices as a result of information and arguments alone. Rather, if one is a young adult and fairly experienced in the world, information accompanied by good arguments is usually insufficient to bring about change. One can change only if one has already had experiences that more or less conform to the way of thinking being proposed as the new model. For this reason, even if the moral thoughts or goals depicted in this book are somewhat attractive to a reader, in most instances thinking alone is not enough to change a person’s behavior.
In limited situations, information alone can be powerful. Consider two instances in the moral realm where information (along with implicit or formal arguments) might work. If a heavy drinker and drug user understands that he is killing himself but also damaging his family, he might change and decide to participate in an AA 269