I agree with you here, because although some say that in theory, to be seen as moral, an action should involve no personal sentiments, in practice it seems to be a little less black and white than this. I think an interesting question to ask would be 'would you still act morally if you had no conscience, or if you would not feel guilty if you didn't?'
In that case, you may enjoy reading Hume's Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals
. The Nidditch revision of the Selby-Bigge edition (ISBN-10: 019824536X, which includes Hume's other Enquiry
, the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
, which is also very worth reading, but is not about ethics) was the standard, but there is a newer edition put out by Oxford that I believe they hope will become the standard edition. But as I have not read the latter, I will venture to recommend the former.
You can also read it online if you prefer (the free online version is without the revisions by Nidditch, which are not essential):
Online Library of Liberty - Enquiries Concerning the Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals
There are also other works by Hume that they have:
Online Library of Liberty - David Hume
---------- Post added 03-03-2010 at 02:19 PM ----------
Are our actions ultimately right or wrong depending on the overall number of people helped or hurt, whatever our intentions. Or is the morality of our actions to be decided by our motives? And do you really have to choose?
If niether of the above, how would you say the morality of an was defined?
I have tended to come down on the side of deontology in this area, but i have never come to a satisfactory conclusion. Has anyone else constructed their own answer to this age old question?
When I was your age, I was trying to come up with something regarding such matters, as well as other philosophical issues. When I was slightly older, I was hoping to be able to come up with something brilliant and put my mark on philosophy forever, as I had not found anything satisfactory in any of the philosophers I had read up to that point. Then I read Hume, and after thinking about it for a while, my hopes of fame were dashed to the ground, as I think Hume is right in virtually everything he wrote. It has been said of Hume that his philosophy is a "dead end", beyond which one cannot continue in his direction. I think it is a "dead end" in the same sense that the answer 4
is a "dead end" to the question, what is 2 + 2?
Once one says 4
, there is pretty much nothing left to say to answer that question.