On morality: It seems that, by and large, if an individual has sufficient knowledge of a situation, he or she will be able to determine what is right from what is wrong. Human consciousness is in fact enough of an arbiter for that. The problem, I think, of the human condition is not that there is any mystery about the right course of action, but rather it is when a person knows what is right and chooses to do the wrong thing anyway. We all seem to know pretty well what is the moral course in any given potentiality. The problem for humans is not, therefore, in finding a better definition of morality, but rather finding a way for our kind to stop disregarding our consciences in favor of what immediately suits us.
There is a relative kind of morality that only applies locally, and there is an objective kind that applies everywhere in the universe.
Proximate (evolutionary) morality is clearly relative and arbitrary, varying randomly across cultures. But I can't shake this nagging suspicion that there may be an objective sort of morality that supersedes all of those, and that possibly it is even knowable. Perhaps it is based on compassion.
On abortion: killing a zygote could very well be taking a life, but it must assuredly be less of a sin to nip in the bud a life not worth living, a life of suffering and misery, than to irresponsibly do the opposite. Life is full of sacrifices, whether we like it or not.
People argue for or against moral relativism. The fact is that there exist together in nature relative and objective types of morality. Both are held and used widely.
The notion of personal responsibility is a tricky one. For example, when someone commits a crime, there are various ways to look at it. A person who previous to the act of committing a crime knew exactly what he was going to do, planned it out and executed it -- knowing the whole time, unequivocally, that it was wrong -- can be said to have some objective measure of personal responsibility for such an act. Someone who committed a crime reactively, or based upon emotion or instinct, makes the waters a little cloudier. Perhaps ordinarily, they wouldn't do such a thing. It was in the heat of the moment. In our society, you're guilty either way, but perhaps this person would deserve extra forgiveness. Then there is the case in which a person commits a crime, intentionally, but didn't know or understand that it was wrong or illegal. This is the trickiest of all because the whole essence of the moral and legal deterrent was nonexistent. Once again, you're guilty either way, but perhaps stupidity has saved you from a graver fate.
Is a sin still a sin if one has no choice but to commit it?
Last I understood, ambition was not a virtue.
Compassion is essentially an understanding and a sympathy between souls, is fundamental, and is the basis for a universal morality.
Religions, political entities and indeed, most of society believe that ideas of morality are the fundamental and most important ideas. I think this is wrong. Morality is something, it is not everything.
Morality has its roots in what is safe, and what is dangerous.
I used to accept the premise of Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange as fascinating and clearly valid, but I now find I no longer hold that opinion. Denying a criminal his very free will may be a crime, but practical concerns dictate that there can be no solution to this conundrum. There is not some other habitable planet to which we can ship all of the prisoners and criminals so that, in the spirit of Christ, even they can be free. In reality, practicality requires us to sacrifice the lives of convicted criminals as a matter of public safety and common good, not merely as punishment and revenge. It is an expedient and it is a necessary one; objective morality does not apply. I no longer sympathize with Kubrick's philosophy reflected in this film.
Fixed moral systems can be problematic. A conscientious personal morality is the best and only guide.
It seems to me that animals are considerably more intelligent than we realize. And, consequently, that our treatment of them historically has been morally quite grave.