Differentiate moral intuition from moral reasoning with suitable examples. (2023/150 Words)

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Understanding Moral Intuition and Moral Reasoning in the Indian Context: A Guide for UPSC Aspirants

Excelling in the UPSC Civil Services Examination requires a solid understanding not only of a vast syllabus but also a keen insight into moral and ethical concepts. A clear understanding of these concepts helps aspirants deal with the General Studies Paper-IV, also known as Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude paper. Two frequently misunderstood concepts among aspirants are Moral Intuition and Moral Reasoning. This article aims to differentiate between the two with suitable Indian context examples.

Moral Intuition:

Moral Intuition refers to the immediate, instinctive and pre-reflective judgments we make concerning the rightness or wrongness of an action. It does not involve conscious reasoning or deliberation. For instance, if we see someone being bullied, our first instinct, generally, is to feel that it is wrong – this is moral intuition.

A more concrete Indian example would be our reaction to incidents of corruption. Let’s say an average Indian citizen comes across a government official accepting bribe, without thinking twice, he/she will instinctively see this act as immoral and unethical, this immediate reaction can be attributed to moral intuition. It’s like an automatic trigger based on our ingrained system of values and social norms.

Moral Reasoning:

On the other hand, Moral Reasoning is a conscious, deliberate, and reflective process of determining the rightness or wrongness of a behavior, act, or situation. It involves critical analysis and often refers to the use of ethical theories and principles.

For example, the Indian constitution provides for capital punishment, or the death penalty, for some heinous crimes. While moral intuition might lead some to instinctively view the death penalty as an immoral act, Moral Reasoning steps in when we engage in a deeper analysis of this issue. We deliberate on aspects such as the severity of the crime, the victim’s rights, the possibility of the culprit re-offending, and other societal implications, before we form a reasoned conclusion.

Another instance could be the outlawing of Triple Talaq in India. One might instinctively feel it is unfair but forming an opinion requires understanding the nuances of gender justice, women’s rights, religious freedom, and constitutional safeguards – this requires moral reasoning.

Moral Intuition Vs. Moral Reasoning:

While Moral Intuition comes instinctively and is immediate, Moral Reasoning requires conscious thought and deliberation. In a society like ours with a diversity of cultures and traditions, instinctive immoral acts for one group might not be the same as for another. Here, Moral Reasoning comes to the rescue, allowing individuals to step beyond their personal biases and beliefs, and critically evaluate situations using universally accepted moral and ethical principles.

For UPSC aspirants, it is crucial to understand that both Moral Intuition and Moral Reasoning are integral to ethical decision-making. An effective civil servant needs to strike a balance between both.

Remember, intuition might be spontaneous and quick; thus effective in situations demanding immediate response. However, one should not always rely on it. Moral Reasoning, though it consumes more time and thought, ensures that our decisions are justified, principled, and in line with the constitutional values of our country.

In conclusion, as future Civil Servants, it is of paramount importance to introspect on your Moral Intuitions and back them with solid Moral Reasoning to form balanced and fair judgments. Ensuring this balance is one step toward becoming an effective, empathetic, and conscientious civil servant.

Prince Luthra (UPSC CSE AIR 577)

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