AskDefine | Define amorality

Dictionary Definition

amorality n : the quality of being amoral

User Contributed Dictionary



See also


  • Croatian: amoralnost
  • German: Amoralität
  • Portuguese: amoralidade

Extensive Definition

See also Morality and Ethics.
For other uses, see Egoism (disambiguation).
Amorality is the quality of existence that moral right and wrong (or good and evil) are incompatible. 'Amorality' or 'amoralism' may also refer to believing that the concepts of moral right and wrong do not have meaning, or lacking a belief in the absolute existence of any moral laws.
"Amorality" is different from "immorality" although they are often confused. An amoral person denies the existence of morality, as opposed to an immoral person who violates a certain moral code, but may still believe in the underlying truth of that moral code. Amoral persons either do not possess ethical notions at all as a result of upbringing (see antisocial personality disorder) or else do not subscribe to any moral code. This latter may in turn mean strong individualistic leanings that do not get codified into a universally applicable system. Someone may maintain that he will do as he likes and let others do the same, if they so desire, without turning this into a general principle as, for example, Kant's categorical imperative would require. Because whoever says so only expresses his personal preference or informs about the way he is going to act, the position is consistent. An amoralist might also make a stronger point that moral systems are arbitrary and unfounded on the whole, which is an epistemic or anthropological claim and not an ethical one. For this principled sort of amoralist, see Stirner, Daniel Quinn and to a degree Marquis de Sade.
This being said, it still is advisable to differentiate between mystical/religious amorality and pathological amorality, like in the case of Marquis de Sade or with anti-social personality disorders. In the case of the Marquis and in other cases of psychopathology it is even questionable whether these are instances of amorality. They are rather forms of inverted morality. For the Marquis knew about and accepted the morality of his time, but in a completely inverted way: what was good to his fellow man was evil to him and what was evil was good. Notice that this still is on the plane of duality; it is only an inverted kind of duality, instead of a transcendence to a coincidentia oppositorum.
But in religious amoralism we find a transcendence of the relative world of moralism, like in the Gospel of St. Thomas:
(22) Jesus said to them : "When You make the two one [....] then will You enter the Kingdom."
"Immoral" refers to a person or behavior that is self-consciously within the scope of morality but does not abide by its edicts. A thief will not deny that stealing is immoral, but would perhaps attempt to deflect the blame or offer excuses in order to justify his actions, either to other or to himself. A more sinister kind of immoral individual might even derive pleasure from "breaking the rules". An amoral individual, on the other hand, would see the entire issue as moot; an excuse would only need to be offered if it resulted in the danger of punishment being averted. Essentially, immoral individuals believe that certain things are wrong, but disregard this information, possibly resulting in feelings of guilt. An amoral person believes that the concepts of right and wrong are irrelevant, with one view consisting of the idea that right and wrong are subjective concepts, and determined entirely by personal preference. Thus, guilt is meaningless in an objective sense. In common use "amoral" and "immoral" are often used interchangeably, although the meaning of the terms is significantly different.
amorality in Modern Greek (1453-): Αμοραλισμός
amorality in Russian: Аморализм
amorality in Serbian: Аморалност
amorality in Swedish: Amoralism
amorality in Ukrainian: Імморалізм

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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