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95 of 6,095 quotations related to Morality

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Acton, Lord John Emerich
Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.

Adams, John
We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

Oct. 11, 1798 - from an address to the military, quoted in The Works of John Adams
All sober inquirers after truth, ancient and modern, pagan and Christian, have declared that the happiness of man, as well as his dignity, consists in virtue.

1776 - from Thoughts on Government
Public virtue cannot exist without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics.

Apr. 16, 1776 - from a letter to Mercey Warren
Amiel, Henri Frederic
Civilization is first of all a moral thing. Without truth, respect for duty, love of neighbor, and virtue, everything is destroyed. The morality of a society is alone the basis of civilization.

Archbishop Wulfstan
It is no wonder that there is mishap among us: because we know full well that now for many years men have too often not cared what they did by word or deed.

c. 1014 AD - from Sermo Lupi ad Anglos
Arendt, Hannah
The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be either good or evil.

attributed
Aristotle
Character is that which reveals moral purpose, exposing the class of things a man chooses and avoids.

Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.

Virtue ... is of two kinds, intellectual and moral. Intellectual virtue springs from and grows from teaching, and therefore needs experience and time. Moral virtues come from habit... they are in us neither by nature, nor in despite of nature, but we are furnished by nature with a capacity for receiving them, and we develop them through habit.

from Nicomachean Ethics



Virtue, like art, constantly deals with what is hard to do, and the harder the task the better the success.

from Nicomachean Ethics
Happiness [is] prosperity combined with virtue.

Ashcroft, Sen. John
On moral issue after moral issue, we have cut and run, when we needed to stand and fight.

Jan. 30, 1998 - from a speech to the Conservative Political Action Committee
Leaders who suggest they can separate their private lives and their public actions are wrong. Morality is not divisible.

Jan. 30, 1998 - from a speech to the Conservative Political Action Committee
Bacon, Sir Francis
Virtue is like precious odours - most fragrant when they are incensed or crushed.

1625 - from "Of Adversity" in Essays
Ball, Hugo
Everywhere, the ethical predicament of our time imposes itself with an urgency which suggests that even the question 'Have we anything to eat?' will be answered not in material but in ethical terms.

Bloom, Alan
Students these days are, in general, nice. I choose the word carefully. They are not particularly moral or noble.

1987 - from The Closing of the American Mind
Brand, Christopher
It was axiomatic to the philosophers of ancient Greece that there would be some relation between the character of a people and its political institutions and policies.

1986 - from "The psychological bases of political attitudes and interests", in Hans Eysenck: Consensus and Controversy by S.& C. Modgil, ed.
Brecht, Bertold
No one can be good for long if goodness is not in demand.

Brown, Rita Mae
Morals are private. Decency is public.

from Starting from Scratch



Bruyère, Jean de la
If it be usual to be strongly impressed by things that are scarce, why are we so little impressed by virtue?

1696 - from Les Caractères
Burke, Edmund
... what is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils, for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.

1790 - from Reflections on the Revolution in France
There is no safety for honest men but by believing all possible evil of evil men.

1790 - from Reflections on the Revolution in France
Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains on their own appetites. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there is without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.

Chesterton, Gilbert K.
The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice.

1901 - from A Defense of the Humilities, The Defendant
Chisolm, Brock
 The idea of good and evil is a myth created by the politicians, the priests, and all those who have an interest to keep it at their mercy.

1945 - quoted in Brock Chisolm: Doctor to the World, by Allan Irving
Cicero, Marcus Tullius
The existence of virtue depends entirely upon its use.

51 B.C. - from De Re Publica
Colson, Charles
What the experts have shown is that crime is caused by the lack of moral training during the morally formative years. There has to be a moral solution, a transformation of the individual. [Colson claims that a prisoner support program he runs reduces the recidivism rate to five percent from a national average of over 40 percent.]

Feb. 8, 2001 - quoted in "Charity is not the government's job" by Larry Elder, Creator's Syndicate Ind.
Colton, Charles Caleb
The good opinion of our fellow men is the strongest, though not the purest, motive to virtue.

1825 - from Lacon
Coolidge, Calvin
There is no moral standard so high that the people cannot be raised up to it.




Little progress can be made by merely attempting to repress what is evil; our great hope lies in developing what is good.

D'Souza, Dinesh
Is one of today's deepest taboos the idea of moral responsibility and moral accountability? ... It now seems dangerous to suggest that it is not society but more often individuals who must shoulder the burden for their own problems.

Jan. 1995 - from "Forbidden Thoughts", a discussion published in American Enterprise by the American Enterprise Institute
I think perhaps people in the universities have externalized the idea of vice and virtue. Instead of seeing vice and virtue as personal categories to be used by individuals to guide their own actions, vice and virtue have become exclusively political concepts. A bad person is someone who offends prevailing sensibilities.

Jan. 1995 - from "Forbidden Thoughts", a discussion published in American Enterprise by the American Enterprise Institute
Diefenbaker, John George  
You cannot deny an individual the right to think as he will. The offence is not in being wrong, the offence is in doing wrong.

Oct. 16, 1970 - from a speech in the Canadian Parliament
I do not say that everything I did was right, but what I do say, Mr. Speaker, is that what I did was honest.

Mar. 24, 1966 - from Hansard, Canadian Parliament
Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong.

Dole, Robert
Those who cultivate moral confusion for profit should understand this: we will name their names and shame them as they deserve to be shamed.

Durant, William
A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within. The essential cause of Rome's decline lay in her people, her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade, her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes, her consuming wars.

1944 - from Caesar and Christ
Edman, Raymond
Evangelical faith without Christian ethics is a travesty on the gospel.

Einstein, Albert
Those to whom the moral teaching of the human race is entrusted surely have a great duty and a great opportunity.

Nov. 1947 - from "Atomic War or Peace", published by The Atlantic Monthly Magazine



Eliot, Thomas Stearns
It is impossible to design a system so perfect that no one needs to be good.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo
The essence of greatness is the perception that virtue is enough.

1841 - from "Heroism" in Essays
The order of things consents to virtue.

1834 - from Journals
Forbes, Steve
As the 20th century draws to an end, the world is certainly learning from America that the economic and political freedoms that come from capitalism and democracy are the most powerful and productive ways to organize society. At the same time, however, we ... are learning that if you want a healthy, vibrant society, capitalism and democracy alone are not enough... capitalism and democracy are necessary but insufficient elements of a successful, virtuous and vibrant society.

Oct. 21, 1997 - from "The Moral Basis of a Free Society", an address to the Heritage Foundation
A free society depends upon much more than free elections and free markets. A self-governing society must be made up of self-governing individuals—individuals with a moral sense, a moral compass, a set of fixed principles that guide and direct them, regardless of the fashionable whims and predilections of the day.

Oct. 21, 1997 - from "The Moral Basis of a Free Society", an address to the Heritage Foundation
Franklin, Benjamin
Mankind are very odd creatures: one half censure what they practice, the other half practice what they censure; the rest always say and do as they ought.

Gairdner, William D.  
... the most important civilizational ideals are ultimately weighed according to some publicly accepted notion of virtue and vice ... There can be no moral framework, and therefore no true community, without a judicious public intolerance. In other words, there can be no public sense of virtue without a public sense of vice.

Apr. 2001 - from The Trouble with Democracy
Garcia, Jerry
Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.

Grant, R.W.
... the doctrine of self-sacrifice is no longer in the ivory tower - it has entered the political arena, and the philosophical 'thou ought' has finally become the legislated 'thou must.' What was previously only a 'moral obligation' has now become a 'duty.' Every tyranny in history has been based on some variation of the altruist theme. Under Stalin and Lenin it was the duty of the individual to serve the Proletariat. Under Hitler it was the Fatherland. Under Mussolini it was The State. The altruist ideal of service to some 'greater good' is the cornerstone of tyranny.

1999 - from The Incredible Bread Machine, published by Fox and Wilkes
Henry, Patrick
When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.

1775 - from The Liberty Tree



Kemp, Jack
Democracy without morality is impossible.

Kirk, Russell
Not by force of arms are civilizations held together, but by subtle threads of moral and intellectual principle.

1953 - from The Conservative Mind
First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order. That order is made for man, and man is made for it; human nature is a constant, and moral truths are permanent.

1993 - from "Ten Conservative Principles", in the second chapter of The Politics of Prudence
Kissinger, Henry
We must learn to distinguish morality from moralizing.

1976
Lincoln, Abraham
It is the eternal struggle between these two principles - right and wrong. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time and will ever continue to struggle. It is the same spirit that says, "You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it."

Lippmann, Walter
The search for moral guidance which shall not depend upon external authority has invariably ended in the acknowledgment of some new authority.

MacIntyre, Alasdair
There is a fundamental contrast between man as he happens to be and man as he could be if he realized his essential nature. ... The precepts which enjoin the various virtues and prohibit the vices instruct us how to move from potentiality to act, how to realize our true nature, and to reach our true end. To defy them will be to be frustrated and incomplete, to fail to achieve that good of rational happiness which it is peculiarly ours as a species to pursue.

1981 - from After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory
To be a moral agent is ... to be able to stand back from any and every situation in which one is involved, from any and every characteristic that one may possess, and to pass judgment on it from a purely universal and abstract point of view that is totally detached from all social particularity.

1981 - from After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory
Meyer, Frank Straus
The essential requisite for a good society is such a division of power that no single center will be able to enforce beliefs upon men by force, or to inhibit and destroy other beliefs by force. This principle can be reduced to a simpler maxim: The state must be limited to its proper function of preserving order. But this will only be possible when the person is considered as the central moral entity, and society as but a set of relations between persons, not as an organism morally superior to persons. For if society be given a moral status superior to persons, then it follows both implicitly and logically that society has the right to create an arm to enforce its moral rights. That arm can only be the unlimited Leviathan state.

1962 - from In Defense of Freedom
Nietzsche, Friederich
If there is nothing to morality but expressions of will, my morality can only be what my will creates.




Paine, Thomas
When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.

Jul. 1775 - from The Liberty Tree
Read, Leonard E.
A principle cannot be compromised but only adhered to or surrendered. Honesty is abandoned as much by the theft of a dime as of a dollar.

from Meditations on Freedom
Reagan, Ronald Wilson
Someone once said that every form of government has one characteristic peculiar to it and if that characteristic is lost the government will fall. In a monarchy it is affection and respect for the royal family. If that is lost the monarch is lost. In a dictatorship it is fear. If the people stop fearing the dictator he'll lose power. In a representative government such as ours it is virtue. If virtue goes the government fails. Are we choosing paths that are politically expedient and morally questionable? Are we in truth losing our virtue? ... If so we may be nearer the dustbin of history than we realize.

Jul. 9, 1979 - from his radio address
Without God there is not virtue because there is no prompting of the conscience, without God there is a coarsening of the society; without God democracy will not and cannot long endure. If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under.

quoted in "The Forgotten Roots of American Freedom" by Brad Chaver
Roosevelt, Theodore
... in this actual world, a churchless community where men have abandoned or scoffed at or ignored their religious needs is a community on the rapid downgrade.

1917 - quoted by William Simon in "Why America Needs Religion", a Heritage Foundation Lecture
To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.

Rousseau, Jean Jacques
Censorship may be useful for the preservation of morality, but can never be so for its restoration.

1762 - from The Social Contract
A country cannot subsist well without liberty, nor liberty without virtue.

Sallust
Few men desire liberty; most men wish only for a just master.

Saul, John Ralston  
The abolition of hell has created major problems in the maintaining of a general ethical standard.

1995 - from The Doubter's Companion



Schumacher, Ernst F.
We must do what we conceive to be the right thing, and not bother hour heads or burden our souls with whether we are going to be successful. Because if we don't do the right thing, we'll be doing the wrong thing, and we will just be part of the disease, and not a part of the cure.

Scruton, Roger
Moral judgements are not "counsels of prudence", to use Kant's idiom, but principled conclusions about what ought to be done. Hence, I must set aside my interests and look impartially on the problem, as though it were not I, but another, who chooses.

Jan. 22, 2001 - from his review of Writings on an Ethical Life by Peter Singer, review published in the New Statesman
Seneca, Lucius Annaeus
It is easy enough to arouse in a listener a desire for what is honorable; for in every one of us nature has laid the foundations or sown the seeds of the virtues. We are born to them all, all of us, and when a person comes along with the necessary stimulus, then those qualities of the personality are awakened, so to speak, from their slumber.

Shirer, William L.
[Hitler] He who was so monumentally intolerant by his very nature, was strangely tolerant of one human condition - a man's morals. No other party in Germany came near to attracting so many shady characters.

from The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander
We have placed too much hope in politics and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession: our spiritual life.

from A World Split Apart
European democracy was originally imbued with a sense of Christian responsibility and self-discipline, but these spiritual principles have been gradually losing their force. Spiritual independence is being pressured on all sides by the dictatorship of self-satisfied vulgarity, of the latest fads, and of group interests.

from From Under the Rubble
Sommers, Christina Hoff
I often meet students incapable of making even one single confident moral judgment. And it's getting worse. ... Recently, several of my students objected to philosopher Immanuel Kant's 'principle of humanity' - the doctrine that asserts the unique dignity and worth of every human life. They told me that if they were faced with the choice between saving their pet or a human being, they would choose the former. We have been thrown back into a moral Stone Age.

Mar. 01, 1998 - from an essay in Imprimis
Sowell, Thomas
While rationalism at the individual level is a plea for more personal autonomy from cultural norms, at the social level it is often a claim - or arrogation - of power to stifle the autonomy of others.

Stevenson, Adlai
Laws are never as effective as habits.

Swindoll, Charles
A family is a place where principles are hammered and honed on the anvil of everyday living.




Thomas, Cal
If the government had not been so insistent in tearing down the moral code that used to protect us in this country, perhaps more people might be able to judge right from wrong for themselves.

If we will not be constrained from within by the power of God, we must be constrained from without by the power of the State...

Mar. 1995 - from an article in Harper's magazine
The lack of any personal accountability to a moral code has made immorality respectable in our nation. There is at times little in the press, in the entertainment industry, or in our institutions of higher (lower?) learning that can lift us up or cause us to realize that we have fallen. All of the voices are coming from below, rather than from above.

1990 - from The Death of Ethics in America
We have rediscovered in the nineties that democracy is moral before it is political and that social order is the public evidence of private conscience.

from "The Sixties Are Dead: Long Live the Nineties", a presentation at Hillsdale College
When we look around us, our values and convictions sometimes seem fragile and tenuous, like a small flame in the strong wind. In reality, these moral laws have all the certainty of physical laws.

from "The Sixties Are Dead: Long Live the Nineties", a presentation at Hillsdale College
Washington, George
Labour to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire - conscience.

from one of his schoolboy notebooks
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labour to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politican, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them.

Sep. 17, 1796 - from his farewell address
A good moral character is the first essential in a man. It is therefore highly important to endeavor not only to be learned, but virtuous.

Webster, Daniel
If we and our posterity reject religious instruction and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the political constitution which holds us together, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us, that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity.

Liberty exists in proportion to wholesome restraint.




Whittier, John Greenleaf
I suffer with no vain pretence / Of triumph over flesh and sense...

1880 - from "My Trust"
Widdecombe, Ann
Today the only thing which is not tolerated is intolerance.

1998 - from the introduction to the Inner Temple Year Book
Will, George F.
A disquieting era of genetic manipulation is coming, one that may revolutionize human capacities, and notions of health. If we treat moral scruples impatiently, as inherently retrograde in a scientifically advancing civilization, we will not be in moral trim when, soon, our very humanity depends on our being in trim.

Jan. 20, 2000 - from "Scruples and Science", published by the Washington Post Writers Group
Wilson, James Q.
In the long run, the public interest depends on private virtue.

1985 - from an essay in Public Interest
Wolfe, Alan
 Middle-class Americans have added an Eleventh Commandment: "Thou shalt not judge."

1998 - from a speech to journalists in Washington, similar assertion also appears in One Nation, After All