Some Notable Views on American Morality and Persian Morality

Various types of Morality, particularly those of American Morality and Persian Morality, have been the subjects of some articles and discussions in recent years. In this blog, following the introduction of the term of morality as defined by Cambridge Dictionary and Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the Moral Responsiblity will be described and finally some notable views on American Morality and Persian Morality will be presented and reviewed.

Definitions of Morality

1. Cambridge Dictionaries define “Morality” as “A personal or social set of standards for good or bad behavior and character, or the quality of being right, honest or acceptable”.

2. According to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the term “Morality” can be used either descriptively to refer to some codes of conduct put forward by a society or some other group, such as a religion, or accepted by an individual for his/her own behavior or normatively to refer to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons.
“Morality” is an unusual word. It is not used very much, at least not without some qualification. People do sometimes talk about Christian morality, Nazi morality, or about the morality of the Greeks, but they seldom talk simply about morality all by itself. Consistent with this way of talking, many anthropologists used to claim that morality, like law, applies only within a society. They claimed that “Morality” refers to that code of conduct that is put forward by a society. However, even in small homogeneous societies that have no written language, distinctions are sometimes made among morality, etiquette, law, and religion. So, even for these anthropologists “Morality” does not often refer to every code of conduct put forward by a society.

Moral Responsiblity

Moral responsibility usually refers to the idea that a person has moral obligations in some situations. Disobeying moral obligations, then, becomes grounds for justified punishment. Deciding what justifies punishment, if anything, is a principle concern of ethics. People who have moral responsibility for an action are usually called moral agents. Agents are creatures that are capable of reflecting on their situation, forming intentions about how they will act, and then carrying out that action. Many believe[who?] that agency, and thus moral responsibility, requires free will. Thus, free will is an important issue in the debate on whether individuals are ever morally responsible for their actions—and, if so, in what sense. Incompatibilists think that determinism is at odds with free will, whereas compatibilists think the two can coexist. Society generally holds people responsible for their actions, and will say that they deserve praise or blame for what they do. However, moral responsibility is not necessarily the same as legal responsibility. A person is legally responsible for an event when it is that person who is liable to be penalised in the court system for an event. Although it may often be the case that when a person is morally responsible for an act, they are also legally responsible for it, the two states do not always coincide. Source:

American Morality

1. Barry Farber, a pioneer in talk radio, noted that, “Hollywood gave the world a pretty good definition of American Morality for a long time through the Western (Movies)…The good guy never shot first. The bad guy always shot first. Then the good guy drew and shot and won”

2. The Book of “The Culture of Cynicism: American Morality in Decline” authored by Professor Richard Stivers and was published in 1987. This book is the most wide ranging and thought provoking book yet written on American Morality. It traces the intellectual history of American morality from its European origins in the Middle Ages to the 1990s.
American culture, Professor Stivers argues, is a culture of cynicism. The pursuit of the mystical values of success, survival, happiness, and health has produced a corrosive and pervasive morality which is actually an “”anti morality””. The result is a world in which there are norms without meaning, and everyday life is reduced to an empty struggle for power and satisfaction. This leads to boredom, unhappiness, anxiety, depression, addiction, susceptibility to religious cults, bizarre psychotherapies, widespread divorce, and damaged personal relationships.
The Culture of Cynicism not only lays bare the internal contradictions of American morality, but also charts the new forms it has assumed. It demonstrates compellingly that neither liberal nor conservative commentators on America’s moral decline have grasped what is really the case: that American morality itself is the source of this decline. What we need is not a return to higher moral standards, but a complete revision of America’s foundational ethics.

3. The Take of a Chinese Professor on American Morality: Last month the Economic Observer published an article written by Xie Tao, a professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University. The article was translated from Chinese into English by Laura Lin. Here are some parts of that article:
Whether in real life or on television, Chinese people believe that Americans live in a “post-moral” era. Americans seem to get divorced as quickly as they get married or dispense entirely with the notion of marriage. “How can one regard Americans as moral if they are so casual about their marriages and sex life?” is a basic question Chinese ask.
But Americans actually have a far stronger sense of morality on matters of gender and power,,, And even if corruption does exist in America, in comparison with most other countries, US government officials could be absolutely regarded as models to emulate. Due to our cultural tradition, we often just see the immoral or amoral side of American private life whereas we ignore their strong sense of morality in public life.
American immorality in private life exists thanks to the high degree of political freedom they enjoy. Some Chinese say that without the American Bill of Rights, the active participation of the Supreme Court or of various social groups’ tradition of lobbying, it would have been difficult for a lot of the “unethical behavior” of the Americans to exist.
And yet, the ethical behavior of Americans in public life is largely a product of U.S. political system as well. Through the mechanism of elections, restricted government power as well as supervision and the balance of power, American public life is restrained.
Immoral public life is much worse than an unethical private life. When a society is lacking in both private and public morality, it’s a society that is in peril. On the contrary, it is thanks to their moral public life that the Americans can indulge themselves in public debate, as well as enjoy their immoral private lives.

Persian Morality

The Christian Classics Ethereal Library, which is a digital library and provides free electronic copies of Christian scripture and literature texts, has an article referring to Persian Morality. Here is an excerpt of that article:
Hence the essence of Persian morality consists in a definitely hope-inspired conscious struggle against evil as potent in the world, as well as in, and upon, man himself, and which, both in its guilty origin and in its effects, appears Las a not natural but moral and utterly illegitimate corruption,—in a progressive purification of man from every thing which springs from all-invading and all-infecting evil,—in a word, in struggling against the world of Angramainyus. Man stands forth with his moral will, legitimated and victorious, over against a potently ruling divinity…Wherever evil is regarded as naturally necessary, there the vitality of the morally evil is paralyzed; the Chinese entertain not this view, simply because they conceive of evil in general only very superficially; the Indians conceive of it far more profoundly and earnestly, but they recognize not the moral root of the same; the Persians regard all evil as springing exclusively from personal act. This act, however, is not an historical one, but a pre-historical one; not a human act, but a divine one. But also the positive phase of the moral life is much more highly developed in the moral consciousness of the Persians than in that of the earlier nations…Where evil is no longer regarded as a merely abstract something, as a quality of existence in general, but as a concrete guilt reality, not a mere neutrum, but as borne by personality, there only can the moral struggle against the same be really earnest. The Chinaman labors quietly and busily in mechanical persistence; the Indian patiently endures; the Egyptian mourns, and longs to pass out of this world; the Shemite riots and enjoys; but the Persian battles with a manfully-moral earnestness. The defective phase of his moral consciousness is essentially this, that he throws evil off from himself upon the sphere of the gods,—that he has not recognized the evil of his own heart.

That was about the status of Persian Morality in ancient Iran, and in the era of Persian Empire. Sadly, the conditions have been changed in present-day Iran, and here are some examples:
1. Persian Morality Police: In August 2009, an Iranian female as a commentator wrote that, “Forcing women to wear Hijab is not right…In Persia (Iran), the country (goverment) has taken upon itself to fix everyone’s morality… A government is supposed to give the citizens the life they require. And what the hell is a Morality Police?! Do you really think that forcing people to do something they don’t want to do will make them fix their morality?!
Lots of women in Persia (Iran) just put the veil on in the streets only and then at home, even in the presence of strangers, they take it off….God is the only one who should punish people, not the Persian Morality Police”.

2. New Rules & Regulations Announced by Iran’s Morality Police: On 5 June 2012, Iranian Morality Police announced that people who use satellite programs to transmit their wedding films are in breach of the law and will face prosecution. The head of Iran’s morality police, Brigadier General Ahmad Rozbehani, told ISNA: “Any form of collaboration or activity by any Iranian with satellite channels, including the forwarding of documentaries and such, has to be approved by the Ministry of Guidance and Culture.”
“Sending wedding films and photos to satellite programs is illegal, and we will deal with such offences according to the law,”
the Iranian official said. Previously, Iranian security forces arrested a number of Iranian documentary-makers for airing their films on Persian BBC.

And the fight goes on and on…

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روحیات و خلق و خوی ایرانیان
گفت‌و‌گوی احسان عابدی با مقصود فراستخواه

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اضمحلال امنیت فردی و خانوادگی و شغلی و روحی و فرهنگی ایرانیان در منجلاب حکومت دینی
در مقاله ی «خشم مقدس» بقلم محمد جلالی چیمه


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