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Re: Morality and happiness
I was going to post a separate question on Dexter's topic, but will post it here.
I found the formulation of morality very interesting, too: that morality is the degree to which we derive happiness form the happiness of others. I guess my question regards this matter of degree. We know that even "bad people" will show concern over the happiness of those closest to them (if Tony Soprano is any guide). But extending out from this tight circle, what can we say about the factors that make us care about the happiness of other people even when we'll never be able to observe them being made happy by our actions? Presumably it isn't simply that we see we can become happier by making these efforts. If it was, everyone would want to do that, right? So it seems that particular tools of acculturation are needed to make individuals more moral.
Would you say that religion could reasonably be said to be one of these tools?
(A simple example I thought of is a lost library book. If I find it and don't make an effort to turn it in so that the patron isn't on the hook for the cost, I'm clearly not acting morally, nor am I taking advantage of an opportunity to make myself happier. What has gone wrong with me?)
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