Moral, social and political philosophies are fields that share similarities with one another. The most basic and common characteristic found in all three fields is the role and significance of these fields in the manner by which human beings conduct intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships, with one’s self, with one another and with the community. Social, moral and political philosophies all act as important bedrocks or foundations of ideas humans use to guide their actions.
Another similarity or common ground between these three fields is the presence of the examination of the human feelings as well as rational ideas necessary in the development of specific philosophies inside these three fields, even though in some aspects other factors are absent. For example, Immanuel Kant believes that moral philosophy should be without the consideration on human emotions (Gadamer, Weinsheimer, Marshall, 2004, p. 29).
Without great thinkers who examined, assessed and concretized ideas based from human experiences, ideas and feelings, moral, social and political philosophies would not have existed in the first place. There are many other different similarities. Examples are how all three influence practice, tradition, norm, culture and values, how they all impact human life and later, history, and how all three fields evolve and change over time depending on perspectives introduced by new individuals, new thinking, new ideas and new perspectives.
As for differences, one of the main differences when all three are compared is the specific focus inside which each philosophy works, is applied to, and allows the influence of. The use of moral philosophy – believed to be as one of the two oldest forms of philosophy (Fitzpatrick, 2008, p. 4) – in aspects dealing with moral issues hardly can make any considerations for the use of or relevance of either social or political philosophies. These are not the best and most suitable perspective to use. Ideas are also different.
For example, what can be acceptable to political philosophy can be unacceptable to moral philosophy and vice versa. The focus of the two has the tendency to move towards different, if not altogether contrasting, paths. Justifications for beliefs and the use of sets of philosophical ideas and content can vary depending on what is being argued or debated upon and how these ideas are being used. Social, moral and political philosophies allow the individual to examine, look closely, investigate, assess and explain life.
This is accomplished by these fields via the questions that they offer to the people to answer and explore the answers for themselves through the use of, or guidance, of these different fields of philosophy. The questions these fields of philosophy pose figure into a consideration of modern human life simply because these fields of philosophy exist to tackle, explain and to provide reasons for modern life. What these fields of philosophy creates as questions for humans to answer all point to man’s ability to examine human life, the modern life, consistently.
For example, questions posed by moral philosophy figure into a consideration of modern life. Moral philosophy asks the human being how and why he or she is behaving as he or she does, giving them the trigger for self investigation. This can I justify how I act and why I act with regards to existing moral philosophy, or have I really deviated from it and is thus considered as bad? The questions they pose figure into a consideration of modern life simply because these fields of philosophy is all about life, life experiences and the resulting ideas from these life experiences in the first place.
In the discussion of Smith and Haakonssen (2002) on moral philosophy, it explained that human beings may have the tendency to be confused especially in consideration with the different ideas past and present inside moral philosophy that can counter one another (Smith and Haakonssen, 2002, p. vii). This instance illustrates the idea that these fields of philosophy bring forward questions that allows people to examine life, including modern life, making these fields of philosophy and the questions they pose something that eventually figures into the consideration of the modern life.
Scheppele (1988) noted that people asks for directions, not just literally but also for direction in life and for direction in their ideas and beliefs (Scheppele, 1988, p. 143). Since philosophies are not cast in stone, at times they provide answers in as much as they provide questions, at the same time, allow the individual to make a serious consideration of the present modern life, like how there are questions arising from how law and the social and moral philosophies.
For example, getting in the way of one another during particular instances and how the individual can get away from or wriggle from it with sufficient sense of justification for such action. In the end, the effort at comparing and contrasting social, moral and political philosophy begs the answer to this question – is any one area more important than another? This is a tricky question. Even though the answer is most probably either yes or no, there are complex considerations why it is difficult to arrive at any one of the offered monosyllabic answers.
To say that one is actually more important than the other is to say that the philosophical ideas of the superior one can supplant or totally override the ideas of the other, which cannot be consistently true. Philosophical arguments and the use of philosophy is always a case per case basis with focus on considerations as well as the aspect and context inside which the argument is found. For example, moral philosophy may be important than political or social philosophy. Moral philosophy governs the basic actions of man.
However, if the base of argument leans more towards political considerations and with consideration to accepted political practices that may go against moral ideals, then moral philosophy cannot simply be considered as more important to political or social philosophy. The best possible answer is that all of these are equally important. Its importance should not be gauged and measured and compared with one another. How it is applied to life is a complex process that is hardly possible to quantify or measure to ascertain any indication of measurable importance that can be compared with one another.
All of these are important because they help govern, and even make organized human life that is becoming more and more complex and complicated. References Fitzpatrick, T. (2008). Applied Ethics and social problems: moral questions of birth, society and death. Bristol: The Policy Press. Gadamer, H. G. , Weinsheimer, J. and Marshall, D. G. (2004). Truth and method. London: Continuum International Publishing Group. Schappele, K. L. (1988). Legal secrets: equality and efficiency in the common law. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Smith, A. and Haakonssen, K. (2002). The theory of moral sentiments. London: Cambridge University Press.