Introduction to Moral Reasoning/What is Moral Reasoning?
Moral reasoning is a thinking process with the objective of determining whether an idea is right or wrong.
To know whether something is "right" or "wrong" one must first know what that something is intended to accomplish. Thus, to know if "this direction" is the right direction to follow to get to a coffee shop, one must first know where one is, where the coffee shop is, and the terrain between here and there (to avoid blocks, etc).
Or, to know if this action is the right action to take, one must know what one wants to accomplish, where one is, and the environment between here and the accomplished state (for example, to impress my boss, I have to know what is likely to impress him/her, what I, myself, can do at the work-place or where he/she would observe, etc).
Thus, to know if something (an idea, an action, a behavior) is "right" one has to know both what one intends to accomplish and the environment that exists between "here" and "there.
But that alone is not enough! To go to a bank and threaten the cashier might well accomplish your aim because you know security is weak and the prospect of capture is low. There is a third consideration: is it good for the people who live around me, and supply the things my stolen cash will buy. Here we have a further dilemma: a quick injection of stolen cash may well help my closest suppliers, but where should we draw the boundary? The neighbourhood? The city? Our Nation? or The whole world? Only this last reason: Good for all humanity, yields "moral reasoning"
Satisfactory solutions to problems are determined by using this principle. Problems or behaviors are difficult to solve when either the environment or the desired accomplishment are incompletely understood from a global perspective. (Religions face this difficulty.)
Therefore, moral reasoning can not be correctly performed until what is sought and the surrounding world-wide environment is fully understood. An example: is it "right" to use fetal stem cells? Only by first deciding "what" the use is intended to accomplish and if the way of accomplishing this is understood could such a question be answered. This is discussed in Thinking And Moral Problems []