Real 'moral sense' involves balancing conflicting principles

Josh Greenman, a New York Daily News opinion and editorial writer, recently tweeted, “If you believe conception instantly creates a human being, it makes moral sense to ban all abortions. Exceptions are craven compromise.”

Greenman’s assertion got us thinking. Making moral sense isn’t about taking basic moral notions and connecting them to a simplistic and unbending logic in order to arrive at a universal conclusion that leaves no room, short of cynical calculation, for exceptions based on real-life situations. That’s ignorant ideological moralizing, not “moral sense.”

Genuine “moral sense” is about working through the moral conflicts that real life inevitably creates and finding a workable solution to balance equally moral, and sometimes conflicting, principles. Case in point: Making moral sense is balancing one perfectly moral principle (we should protect the life and health of unborn children) with another perfectly moral principle (we should protect the life and health of pregnant mothers-to-be).

In other words, “moral sense” is not about putting on blinders so we can connect dots using simplistic logic to create rigid conclusions. That is actually “immoral sense” inasmuch as it disregards the real needs of human beings in its ideological quest for simple solutions.

Real “moral sense” is about reasoning through the moral conflicts that life creates to find workable solutions that strike a reasonable balance between moral principles, which likely means exceptions to the rule that is agreed upon, in order to balance the real needs and diverse interests of different groups of people, which genuinely moral people care about.