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Our lives are full of interactions with other people and those interactions often rely on some form of relationship. In this lesson, explore the idea of moral relations and discover how these are maintained. Then, test your understanding with a brief quiz.

Moral Relations

Look around you. Chances are, unless you are the sole inhabitant of a deserted island, that there are other people somewhere nearby.

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Now, if you are the only resident of a deserted island, then this lesson may not be directly relevant to you since we’re talking about maintaining moral relations, or the ethical relationships between human beings. For most of us, this is an important part of daily life. Society is built upon hundreds of daily interactions between individuals, and the only way that we develop some sense of social fabric or unity is by building up relationships between each other.So, what defines a moral relationship? Looks like we’ve got a chance to find out.

Fidelity

All right, so we’ve got an island full of castaways who need to live together, work together, and cooperate for survival. This means that they need to maintain a moral standard that defines their relationships, and a good place to start is with fidelity, the moral duty of fulfilling promises.In almost all theories of ethics, fidelity is seen as a fundamental moral obligation because it is integral to creating trust.

For a relationship to be not only morally fulfilling but also practical, it has to be built upon a level of trust. Now, this will change with various relationships. You trust your spouse more than the guy who you buy coffee from, but there is still an implicit level of trust that he won’t poison you or anything like that.Trust defines all relationships, so actions like fidelity are extremely important. Keeping promises demonstrates that you are trustworthy and builds up the ability for two people to develop a relationship.

Loyalty

Another key value that is important to creating and maintaining a moral relationship is loyalty, or faithfulness and devotion to a person, group, or idea.

Loyalty can require compromise and even sacrificing one’s personal needs or priorities at times, but the result is a tighter moral relationship. Loyalty also helps promote trust between people and can create very strong emotional and psychological bonds.Loyalty, however, can be problematic. Because it is so important to maintaining a moral relationship, the desire to be loyal can impact personal judgment. Is it more important to remain loyal to someone or can it be better to break that loyalty for the sake of greater good? There’s no easy way to answer this and in either case, showing loyalty to one group or person could demonstrate a lack of loyalty to the other.

Friendship

We all want our relationships to be morally grounded, but this is especially important with certain kinds of relationships; notably, friendships, personal relationships based on some emotional intimacy and mutual care for the other’s well-being. Friendships are amongst the most important relationships in our daily lives and they can only exist if they are morally grounded through ideas like trust, fidelity, and loyalty.In fact, friendships are so important that we are morally expected to be willing to sacrifice the needs of ourselves and of others in order to promote the well-being of our friends. If you’ve got one dollar and a friend and stranger both express the same need to use that dollar, who do you give it to? The friend – the person you trust. Besides family and marriage, friendships are among the basic relationships upon which society is built.

Lesson Summary

Whether we’re talking about a few castaways on a deserted island or an entire nation, societies are built upon the daily interactions between people. To develop any sense of social unity, these interactions need to be based in moral relationships, ethical relationships between human beings.Maintaining a moral relationship requires trust between people, which can often be supported by fidelity, the moral obligation to fulfill promises. Loyalty, faithfulness or devotion, is another trait of moral relationships and one that people can take very seriously.

The greater amount of trust, intimacy, and caring exists within a relationship, the higher the moral duty is to maintain it, and this is especially true of friendships, personal relationships based on some emotional intimacy and mutual care for the other’s well-being.By maintaining moral relationships, our daily interactions with people are more successful and much more fulfilling. After all, most of us won’t be spending our lives alone on deserted islands.

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