moral minimum

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moral minimum (plural moral minimums or moral minima)

  1. (ethics) A standard or principle upheld as indispensable for moral conduct, whether within a particular context or in general.
    • 1887, Franklin H. Giddings, "The Natural Rate of Wages," Political Science Quarterly, vol. 2, no. 4, p. 625:
      John Stuart Mill . . . was not long in proving that the moral minimum of wages was a myth.
    • 1942, Richard C. Fuller, "Morals and the Criminal Law," Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (1931-1951), vol. 32, no. 6, p. 628:
      These moral minima are found in the many criminal laws.
    • 2001, Charles R. Beitz, "Human Rights as a Common Concern," American Political Science Review, vol. 95, no. 2, p. 272:
      Walzer speculates that a comparison of the moral codes found in various societies might produce "a set of standards to which all societies can be held—negative injunctions, most likely, rules against murder, deceit, torture, oppression, and tyranny." These standards would constitute "the moral minimum."
  2. (ethics) The specific rule that one should do no intentional harm, often considered the bare minimum required for ethical behavior.
    • 2005, Patricia Illingworth, Trusting Medicine: The Moral Costs of Managed Care, Routledge, →ISBN, p. 100:
      First, consider the moral minimum, do no harm.

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