The Duplicity of Moral Superiority
September 06, 2016
Filed In: Philosophy
There's a tendency in human thought to desire superiority over others. We must show those we resent that we’ve made something of our lives and that it's more than they've done. Thus, we are better than they are. This tendency is destructive and it diverts precious resources away from bettering ourselves.
Moral superiority is a major component of this superiority complex. On a variety of issues, we hold impassioned beliefs that we think are correct. After all, it would be silly for you to hold a strong belief that you thought was wrong. In our arguments, we put our emotions in control and stop seeing our opponents as people. Useful dialogue disintegrates into a fight for moral superiority.
Moral superiority is duplicitous because morality doesn’t seek to subjugate or demean. Rather, morality seeks to guarantee the common good for all people. Moral superiority damages our credibility and limits success. Proving that we are right requires that we must destroy another person.
There are moral issues that are more important than others. To be sure, the value of the human person outweighs the morality of stealing for a good cause. It's possible to make an argument for the importance of a moral issue without demeaning. In fact, a good moral argument results in both parties leaving edified.
The quest for superiority is hubris, and it only gets in the way of a valid intellectual exploration. When advocating for an idea, ignore moral superiority and focus on the question. Your discussion will bear more fruit and you'll both leave with more respect.