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Philosopher Asserts Morality Matters More Than Ever

Originally published 21 July 2004

Today’s society is wracked by moral shortcomings apparent in numerous scandals that hit headlines, such as the murder of innocent victims and racist attacks. In a time when the role of morality is being continually questioned philosopher Professor Roger Trigg from the University of Warwick defends the significance of morality in our social and political lives in his new book Morality Matters.

Morality Matters raises questions such as ‘Should the law allow torture?’. Only a principled stand against all injustice can preserve can preserve the integrity of law as an instrument for the protection of the innocent and for the delivery of justice, contends Professor Trigg.

Professor Trigg, from the University of Warwick, said: “The issue of torture dominated the news when photographs of prisoners at a US-controlled prison in Iraq came to light. Amid the smoke and mirrors is a question of morality that becomes weightier to the extent that torture appeared to be condoned within parts of the US Administration, and prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have been kept for years away from the due process of law. We cannot accept an ally's rationale for prisoner abuse, or contempt for the rule of law, then condemn foes for similar actions”.

“Morality matters, not just because it should govern our personal behaviour and the way we treat others. It should provide the context in which all affairs are conducted, and nations governed. Morality can never be the product of individual whim or passing fashion. It is the key foundation of any properly ordered society.”

Professor Trigg argues that we need a shared moral vision in order to live together, both nationally and internationally. The research considers the need for a shared morality in relation to important topics such as human rights.

Once the law of a land and justice become parted, the moral force of law is weakened. Law should protect the rights of those it is designed to protect. Morality and law are far from identical but all law depends upon moral authority to be obeyed. Totalitarian methods are inevitable once respect for the rule of law, rooted in morality, is removed.

Morality Matters examines controversial issues such as morality and patriotism, politics and race, sexual orientation and discrimination and international relations.

Opposed to relativism the research stresses that private behaviour cannot be kept separate from public choices. Morality Matters asserts that we need to acknowledge the moral foundations of our way of life.

Professor Roger Trigg added: “The role of morality in public life is as prominent as ever. The debate on embryo screening and the rules governing “designer babies” continues and Tony Blair is hinting that the legal time limit for abortions could be re-examined. Legislating morality does not infringe rights. It takes time, effort, and calm and reasoned discussion to figure out what legislation should be.”

For more information contact:
Professor Roger Trigg,
University of Warwick,
Tel: 02476 523 724

Jenny Murray,
Communications Office,
University of Warwick,
Tel: 02476 574 255,
Mobile: 07876 71 7740