Is It Rational to Be Immoral?

Essay, 2010

4 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Is It Rational to Be Immoral?

The relationship between rationality and morality has been a major concern of reasoning ever since. It is subject to an ongoing debate that can be melted down to the central question whether a rational thinking individual has reason to act immorally or not. As the following is going to expose, it has because rationality and immorality correspond with each other. First of all, it is consistent to human reasoning that immorality can provide personal advantages over moral behavior. This rationale takes on even greater significance in an immoral environment. Furthermore, the nature of the human intellect is apparantly egotistic; it tends to be immoral and, therefore, advises the individual to act accordingly.

There are plenty of opportunities where immoral behavior provides obvious benefits a coldly calculating reason demands to take advantage of. To the individual, everyday life is full of immoral temptations promising a shorter and much easier way to success. One case in point, often talked about in this context, is plagiarism at university. At first sight, this sort of deception promises to be a perfect shortcut to academic success, and, as shocking as it might sound, human intelligence calls students to take it. Plagiarizing seems to provide nothing but benefits and is, therefore, completely rational as reason alone does not have any moral restraints. Accordingly, the only two things that prevent students from plagiarizing are their conscience and the fear of unfavorable consequences. Particularly the latter can make it irrational to students to be immoral because the ratio of advantages and disadvantages may not be in favor of plagiarizing any longer. On the other hand, conscience, based on a character formed by moral standards, should prevent students from plagiarizing since it is an egotist defraud that betrays the community of students. A short glance at human society and human history in general, however, tells that conscience is not a standing rule. Frequently, individuals ignore moral constraints by listening to the cold and calculating advice of their intelligence. If reason demanded humans otherwise, there would be no need of a judiciary and a executive force to make immorality irrational by means of threatening potential criminals with unfavorable consequences. Where these threats are absent, being immoral becomes rational, and conscience remains the last barrier keeping individuals off from immorality. Sadly enough, it proves itself as markedly weak and easy to circumvent. As indicated above, immorality is based on selfishness. It is completely rational to the individual whereas it is not to human society as a whole. Therefore, the absence of a superior power posing a threat to potential criminals leads to immoral anarchy; the negative meaning of this term already implies what was said before: The human intellect does not keep individuals from acting immoral; on the contrary, it outlines the rational advantages of immoral behavior as a desirable option. Only the existence of conscience as well as the fear of unfavorable consequences can keep it in constraint.


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Is It Rational to Be Immoral?
University of Tubingen  (Englisches Seminar)
Written Communication 2
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ISBN (eBook)
File size
408 KB
rational, immoral
Quote paper
Frederick Bauer (Author), 2010, Is It Rational to Be Immoral?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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