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OfflineMalachi
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are "ethics" worth talking about?
    #1831258 - 08/19/03 10:20 PM (18 years, 5 months ago)

a buddy of mine and I where talking earlier today and he told me that
"ethics" are meaningless, that it doesn't really mean anything to call something "ethical" since it's subjective, and that therefore gov't has no business using ethics as a front for rational decision making. I countered that ethics are required for some gov't action, like preventing little girls from fucking old guys, but he pointed out that this example is better argued from a rational perspective, that there isn't real consent on the part of little girls- consent being the real standard, a rational standard. so really I have 2 questions.... does "ethic" mean anything, and is the value of consent moral or rational?


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The ultimate meaning of our being can only be fulfilled in the paradoxical leap beyond the tragic-demonic frustration. It is a leap from our side, but it is the self-surrendering presence of the Ground of Being from the other side.
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Offlineneutralizer
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Malachi]
    #1831289 - 08/19/03 10:31 PM (18 years, 5 months ago)

This is a Christian nation boy, if you don't like it you can get out...

At least, that's the sentiment you'd probably get if you asked people around where I live.

I think that most people try to base their ethics or morals on Christianity. Unfortunately most people don't examine things the way we do, so they don't see it the way we do. But you are right about it being somewhat subjective. I think that, for ease in policy making, they draw a line that is somewhat parallel to Christianity and go from there.


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Edited by neutralizer (08/19/03 10:33 PM)


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OfflineHagbardCeline
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Malachi]
    #1831343 - 08/19/03 10:47 PM (18 years, 5 months ago)

Subjective or not, it still has meaning. Ethics are a way of defining acceptable behavior to a particular social group. Of course there are no moral absolutes, and each social group has a duty of reaching a consensus of what it deems acceptable.

Now, it would be wrong if you try to impose your moral ideals on another group.

Also, I believe rationality is also subjective. If you were to see me, running through the forest stripping my clothes off, yelling profanities, and slapping my naked body, you might think that very irrational. However, if you were to approach me, and discover I was covered in fire-ant bites, it would make sense. It just isn't always as obivious.


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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: HagbardCeline]
    #1831367 - 08/19/03 10:56 PM (18 years, 5 months ago)

no


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OfflinePDU
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: ]
    #1831601 - 08/20/03 12:11 AM (18 years, 5 months ago)

Ethic's are not worth talking about at all, completely subjective, absolutely personal, and cannot be categorized among a very broad group of people. Even as strict a group...such as "christians" have widely varrying ethic belief system's. True Ethic's are formulated through knowledge, and personal experience generally, and cannot apply to a group difinitively, if one does generallize and ethic, the ethic is more of a rule or a belief which has been imposed, rather than a true ethic. No?


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OfflineHagbardCeline
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: PDU]
    #1831675 - 08/20/03 12:42 AM (18 years, 5 months ago)

PDU, these are perfect reasons why we SHOULD talk about ethics.

Ethical debates defines what is acceptable. Some people are very near-sighted, and fail to forsee the consequences of their actions. Medical research is an excellent example of this. While few would argue the morality of treating disorders with medicine, what about genetic manipulation on a fetus suspected of having Downs-Syndrome? What about making that same baby have blue eyes? Increased intelligence?

These are VERY REAL problems that deserve attention, for what we do to today, could have unforseen consequences we will have to pay for tommorow.

This is just one of many examples. Doctor - Patient confidentiality. Lawyer- Client privledge. Even if these people don't share the same view as you, don't you want them held to upholding these?


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I keep it real because I think it is important that a highly esteemed individual such as myself keep it real lest they experience the dreaded spontaneous non-existance of no longer keeping it real. - Hagbard Celine


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OfflinePDU
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: HagbardCeline]
    #1831700 - 08/20/03 12:52 AM (18 years, 5 months ago)

Actually you are right. My post was more directed at "debating' ethic's, ive done this many time's and if two people are close minded and set in their way's...niether one is generally going to change their mind. You offered good examples Hagbard.

Im having a hardtime putting my thoughts into word's here...
I need to give this some thought.


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OfflineMalachi
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: HagbardCeline]
    #1832231 - 08/20/03 04:19 AM (18 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

Ethics are a way of defining acceptable behavior to a particular social group. Of course there are no moral absolutes, and each social group has a duty of reaching a consensus of what it deems acceptable.



but consensus is never reached. you phrase it like a social group is a singular entity, when "it" isn't.
Quote:

Now, it would be wrong if you try to impose your moral ideals on another group.



how so? where we wrong to impose our morals on germany? or pol pot?
isn't every "social group" divided into subgroups with different values?
Quote:

Also, I believe rationality is also subjective. If you were to see me, running through the forest stripping my clothes off, yelling profanities, and slapping my naked body, you might think that very irrational. However, if you were to approach me, and discover I was covered in fire-ant bites, it would make sense. It just isn't always as obivious.



that doesn't mean that reason is subjective, it just means that perception is limited - a good reason to not rely on perception alone. once the error is recognized, it's all rational.


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OfflineMalachi
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: HagbardCeline]
    #1832238 - 08/20/03 04:24 AM (18 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

HagbardCeline said:
PDU, these are perfect reasons why we SHOULD talk about ethics.

Ethical debates defines what is acceptable. Some people are very near-sighted, and fail to forsee the consequences of their actions. Medical research is an excellent example of this. While few would argue the morality of treating disorders with medicine, what about genetic manipulation on a fetus suspected of having Downs-Syndrome? What about making that same baby have blue eyes? Increased intelligence?

These are VERY REAL problems that deserve attention, for what we do to today, could have unforseen consequences we will have to pay for tommorow.

This is just one of many examples. Doctor - Patient confidentiality. Lawyer- Client privledge. Even if these people don't share the same view as you, don't you want them held to upholding these?




so you want these things decided based on how they adhere to an ethic? see, I'd prefer it if these sorts of important issues where decided rationally, with consent / individual freedom being the base. it's all fine and good to talk about the morality of this or that, but nothing can ever be decided based on morals- they are innate, whereas rationale can be talked about.


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The ultimate meaning of our being can only be fulfilled in the paradoxical leap beyond the tragic-demonic frustration. It is a leap from our side, but it is the self-surrendering presence of the Ground of Being from the other side.
- Paul Tillich


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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Malachi]
    #1832393 - 08/20/03 06:36 AM (18 years, 5 months ago)

If ethics means some set of rules that derive from a shared set of values, then I think it's relevant to talk about ethics. The examples HagbardCeline mentioned show this type of ethics. But if you look in a dictionary there seems to be no distinction between ethics and morals. In some cases they are even given as synonyms to each other. If that's how the word is used, then claiming that some decision is motivated by ethics is just another way of phrasing that someone is imposing his morals on the decisions.

I think things like codes of ethic have an important function in many parts of society, but unfortunately it's a slippery word, and whenever a politician uses the word "ethic" in the context of a political decision, it's a sign that he is soon going to lie, or has just been lying, and wants to distract his audience from this.

In fact, I think "politician's ethic" would be about things that reflect shared values among politicians, like returning a favor to another politician, respecting another politician's turn to speak, not using physical violence in a political debate, and other things that have to do with the way politics is being done rather than the content of political decisions. Anyone agree?


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OfflineMalachi
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Rhizoid]
    #1832398 - 08/20/03 06:43 AM (18 years, 5 months ago)

well, since most politicians don't follow the ethic, what's the point of proclaiming it to be? essentially what I saying is that morality can't be really shared. we can group actions together, but I don't think we can group people based on moral intent. ethics are a fantasy standard that is the major way in which politicians dupe the people: it's reasonable to think that polls motivate all politicians, with morals or an "ethic" being just an ostensible cover story. the same goes for the protistan ethic, doctors ethics, etc etc. individuals are the only things with morals.

I know I'm repeating myself, it's cause I'm still working this out.


--------------------
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OfflineRhizoid
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Malachi]
    #1832453 - 08/20/03 07:45 AM (18 years, 5 months ago)

Hmm, I think I would put it this way: morality is about weighing values against other values, which is inherently subjective. But some values are shared with other people, and it's in this shared space ethical rules and standards can exist.

A medical doctor's confidentiality is such an example, because it comes from the shared value among doctors that having a patient's trust is good. It makes it easier to diagnose and treat the patient.

I think the debate about euthanasia is a good example of a debate that concerns medical ethics. Let's suppose that mercy killing of humans gets legalized (I believe it's already legal in Switzerland and Holland). Now I think it would be a good idea if doctor's ethics included a rule not to perform mercy killings, in order not to risk patients' trust. Having a separate profession that performs mercy killings is a better solution. However, in the debate preceding the legalization of euthanasia it is meaningless to talk about ethics, because both sides of the debate will claim to be "motivated by ethics". Any such arguments can be removed from the debate without any loss of substance.


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OfflineMalachi
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Rhizoid]
    #1832516 - 08/20/03 08:42 AM (18 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

A medical doctor's confidentiality is such an example, because it comes from the shared value among doctors that having a patient's trust is good. It makes it easier to diagnose and treat the patient.



sure, but it's just as true that telling people that you will keep confidentiality is good for business.

Quote:

Now I think it would be a good idea if doctor's ethics included a rule not to perform mercy killings, in order not to risk patients' trust.



so it's a rational decison, it's not that killing patients is bad, it's that you don't want to risk their trust (ergo their money).
regardless of legal issues, the "doctor ethic" will remain the same: various conflicting values. the doctors who donate their time to doctors without boarders have a very different "ethic" than, say, a plastic surgeon.

Quote:

But some values are shared with other people, and it's in this shared space ethical rules and standards can exist.





this is the crux of it. I don't think we can possibly share this space, cause we can never really know that someone elses morals are the same as ours. even if someone shows consistency of action, humans are too dynamic to pin down. only you know your values.


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The ultimate meaning of our being can only be fulfilled in the paradoxical leap beyond the tragic-demonic frustration. It is a leap from our side, but it is the self-surrendering presence of the Ground of Being from the other side.
- Paul Tillich


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OfflineRhizoid
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Malachi]
    #1832738 - 08/20/03 10:42 AM (18 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

this is the crux of it. I don't think we can possibly share this space, cause we can never really know that someone elses morals are the same as ours. even if someone shows consistency of action, humans are too dynamic to pin down. only you know your values.



No one else's values are exactly the same as mine, but there are parts that overlap and show consistency, and that is the shared space I'm talking about.

Have you read "Lila: An Inquiry into Morals" by Robert M. Pirsig? In that book Pirsig makes the distinction between static and dynamic Quality, where Quality with a capital Q is the metaphysical property that determines whether something is good or bad. I see Pirsig's dynamic Quality as essentially the manifestation of free will applied to novelty, in the context of moral judgements. And static Quality is knowledge about patterns in previous moral judgements. Pirsig's argument is that both the static part (rules) and the dynamic part (choice) are necessary parts of morality. And I agree, because no set of rules will cover every conceivable case or be appropriate for every situation, and a complete lack of rules is like having no memory and no capacity for learning from experience.


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OfflineMalachi
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Rhizoid]
    #1834035 - 08/20/03 05:04 PM (18 years, 5 months ago)

yeah, that sounds right - I don't think that an everchanging metaphysical kind of value is something that industry professionals or social groups or any other groups that are labeled at "ethical" can share. the value that they're using is static, and since that is only a part (I think a far less significant part) of morality, it'd be unreasonable to call it an ethic. perhaps if we qualified it as a static ethic.

Wittgenstein is what got me thinking, as he says that a great deal of language doesn't really mean anything, or at leas that there's no real point ot talking about them - specifically metaphysics and ethics.

it's not like I like positivism, but it seems like he's right too me.

how about a modern non-christian based moral or ethical categorical impreative? I was thinking it's be based on consent/ individual freedom (do as you will as long as it doesn't infringe on others) but this seems like a reason based rules, not "moral".


--------------------
The ultimate meaning of our being can only be fulfilled in the paradoxical leap beyond the tragic-demonic frustration. It is a leap from our side, but it is the self-surrendering presence of the Ground of Being from the other side.
- Paul Tillich


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Offlinefungulus
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Malachi]
    #1834076 - 08/20/03 05:18 PM (18 years, 5 months ago)

I agree with Malachi in that ethics are based alot in perception. Perception is learned(or dictated). Look at America. Ethics change based on popular opinion (perception). Therefore they mean nothing! If they can change at the whim of a social party or media group, then they are not ethics at all. Real ethics never really change. What was true in Plato's time or Socrates' time holds true today. Of course there are new issues facing us, but who is deciding the ethics of these issues (bio-tech, etc.)? It's those who have interest (those who make money on it), like pundits, stock holders, career polititions. It's a different era and ethics are not enough anymore. How about common sense (logic), which is not based on perception, but reality (science). Let the Christians have ethics and the rest of us with the ability to think and reason for ourselves should dictate social, buisness and political courses through common sense! It seems to me that people think alot alike, we just say it differently.


Edited by fungulus (08/20/03 05:24 PM)


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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: fungulus]
    #1834865 - 08/20/03 09:14 PM (18 years, 5 months ago)

fungulus writes:

Ethics change based on popular opinion (perception). Therefore they mean nothing! If they can change at the whim of a social party or media group, then they are not ethics at all. Real ethics never really change. What was true in Plato's time or Socrates' time holds true today.

There are contradictions in your above statement.

The fact of the matter is: there is such a thing as an objective ethics which holds true for all humans in all societies. It is called "Natural Law".

The problem is that most people confuse "ethics" or "morals" with "custom" or "taboo". For example, Victorian England held it immoral for a woman to expose her ankles to view. Clearly this is not objectively immoral or unethical -- it is merely an arbitrary and ultimately short-lived societal opinion on proper manners.

On the other hand, there is no civilized society at any time in recorded history which held that random rape, murder, or theft against the members of that society was moral.

Another area where many people get confused is they believe that in order for an action to be unethical or immoral, it must be acknowledged as such. This is patently untrue. Sacrificing innocents to the gods was an immoral act whether the Aztecs recognized it or not. Slavery is an immoral institution whether the slave owners admitted it or not.

Malachi is correct -- a right action is right and a wrong action is wrong, regardless of what popular opinion of the time has to say about it.

pinky


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OfflineMalachi
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Phred]
    #1834945 - 08/20/03 09:35 PM (18 years, 5 months ago)

pinksharkmark- but if universal natural law is the only ethic, then why use the word "ethic" at all? it has connotations of a specific group or era that does acknowledge (ostensibly) an arbitrary moral code.

on a side note, why isn't "connotate" a word??


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OfflineMalachi
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Malachi]
    #1834948 - 08/20/03 09:36 PM (18 years, 5 months ago)

am I just spelling it wrong?


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OfflineDoctorJ
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Malachi]
    #1835587 - 08/21/03 12:22 AM (18 years, 5 months ago)

the only ethics that matter are situational ethics.

For every unthinkably heinous deed, there is at least one situation in which it would be acceptable (use your imagination). Having and adhering to a rigorous code of ethics limits the operational flexibility of the individual.

I think the situational application of ethics is a constant judgement call. Some times you call it right, sometimes you call it wrong, but in the end you always have to live with the consequences of your choices.


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OfflineHagbardCeline
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Phred]
    #1835694 - 08/21/03 12:54 AM (18 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

Another area where many people get confused is they believe that in order for an action to be unethical or immoral or unethical, it must be acknowledged as such. This is patently untrue. Sacrificing innocents to the gods was an immoral act whether the Aztecs recognized it or not. Slavery is an immoral institution whether the slave owners admitted it or not.




I am not sure I can agree with this. It still seems to me that you are applying your subjective opinion.

I agree that slavery was immoral, because the slaves would have chosen to be free. My understanding of Aztec civilization however, held that being sacrificed was an honor. Now, that may seems rediculous to us today, but the fact is it was consensual.

I know that some may pose the question about sex with an underage person, and would it be moral if the act were consensual. This is an extremely difficult question to answer, as it is multi-faceted. I say, that if the person was deemed to be of sound mind, and had the maturity to fully understand the consequences, then yes. But not if it conflicted with law. Here, society has deemed parents are responsible until the child is of legal age, therefore, what you would be doing is immoral, but only by our standards.

We have to remember that much of what we deem as unnacceptable is very subjective. I believe that in the middle ages, it was not uncommon for women to wed and bear children as early as 13, though 14-15 was the norm. That seems absolutey absurd today (though it seems to be on the rise).

I do admit, this is not an answer I have arrived at easily, but there really aren't many things I would consider absolute, and probably none in the arena of philosophy. To me, EVERYTHING is subjective. Maybe you could clarify and substantiate your claim more.


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I keep it real because I think it is important that a highly esteemed individual such as myself keep it real lest they experience the dreaded spontaneous non-existance of no longer keeping it real. - Hagbard Celine


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OfflineMalachi
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: DoctorJ]
    #1835865 - 08/21/03 02:05 AM (18 years, 5 months ago)

.... if they're situational, then they aren't "ethics".... but you are right: you have to live with the consequences of your choices: ergo the only "ethic" you must live by is: do right.


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The ultimate meaning of our being can only be fulfilled in the paradoxical leap beyond the tragic-demonic frustration. It is a leap from our side, but it is the self-surrendering presence of the Ground of Being from the other side.
- Paul Tillich


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OfflineMalachi
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: HagbardCeline]
    #1835871 - 08/21/03 02:07 AM (18 years, 5 months ago)

well, change consent to "informed consent".


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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: HagbardCeline]
    #1835953 - 08/21/03 02:51 AM (18 years, 5 months ago)

HagbardCeline writes:

My understanding of Aztec civilization however, held that being sacrificed was an honor. Now, that may seems rediculous to us today, but the fact is it was consensual.

Hardly consensual.

For example, infants were often sacrificed to the rain god. Infants are not capable of consenting. Further, the vast majority of Aztec sacrifices were captured prisoners of war. They weren't consenting either.

But if it makes you feel better, let's leave the topic of human sacrifice aside and look at other examples of objectively immoral acts, such as female "circumcision", the deliberate killing of female infants, forcing a wife to climb onto her husband's funeral pyre, or depriving someone of their liberty (and life, if they resist) for ingesting a plant in the privacy of their home.

The point I am making is that just because a majority of a given group in a given time and place approve of an action, that action is not automatically moral or ethical. Objective ethics are not subject to popular opinion polls.

pinky


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OfflineMalachi
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Phred]
    #1835966 - 08/21/03 02:59 AM (18 years, 5 months ago)

so is the value of consent based in rationality or morality?


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OfflinePhred
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Malachi]
    #1835971 - 08/21/03 03:02 AM (18 years, 5 months ago)

Malachi writes:

but if universal natural law is the only ethic, then why use the word "ethic" at all?

Because you have to call it something.

Ethics is that branch of philosophy which deals with the "rightness" and "wrongness" of human actions in a societal context. In the absence of other humans (for example, you are the sole human on a desert island), "ethics" is a null concept.

The connotations of the words "ethics" and "morality" are similar, but not identical. "Ethics" is more closely associated with a secular view of "right" and "wrong" while "morality" often implies a religious foundation. But to all intents and purposes, the two are intechangeable.

on a side note, why isn't "connotate" a word??

The verb is "connote", the noun is "connotation".

pinky


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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: DoctorJ]
    #1835982 - 08/21/03 03:07 AM (18 years, 5 months ago)

DoctorJ writes:

For every unthinkably heinous deed, there is at least one situation in which it would be acceptable (use your imagination).

Incorrect. Outline for us a situation, please, in which it is ethical, moral, good, right -- or whatever other synonym you feel is applicable -- to kidnap a five year old girl, torture her and kill her. Take your time.

People who say things like this haven't bothered to spend any time at all thinking things through for themselves.

pinky


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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Malachi]
    #1836014 - 08/21/03 03:23 AM (18 years, 5 months ago)

Malachi writes:

so is the value of consent based in rationality or morality?

I don't understand the question. Can you rephrase or expand?

HagbardCeline was trying to defend the morality of human sacrifice by claiming that those being sacrificed volunteered -- they gave their consent. If that had been true, then in that particular situation what would have been occurring was not a murder, but an "assisted" suicide. Suicide is not in and of itself an objectively immoral act.

The essence of "Natural Law" is that a human has the right to act freely -- always presuming those actions do not prevent other humans from doing the same. You have the right to hunt for food -- and keep the food you catch; make tools -- and keep the tools you make; smoke dope, listen to music, trade the products of your labors with others -- whatever. You do not have the right to prevent others from doing the same, nor do you have the right to seize the food and tools and dope of others or force them to make music for you.

If another human consents to trade his bow and arrow for your kilo of bud (in other words, if he arrives at the rational judgment that your bud has as much or more value to him as his bow and arrow), cool. If not, you go your separate ways.

pinky


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OfflineMalachi
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Phred]
    #1836036 - 08/21/03 03:37 AM (18 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

pinksharkmark said:
DoctorJ writes:

For every unthinkably heinous deed, there is at least one situation in which it would be acceptable (use your imagination).

Incorrect. Outline for us a situation, please, in which it is ethical, moral, good, right -- or whatever other synonym you feel is applicable -- to kidnap a five year old girl, torture her and kill her. Take your time.

People who say things like this haven't bothered to spend any time at all thinking things through for themselves.

pinky





well, it's far flung, but it's plausible that you'd need to kidnap, tourture, and kill a little girl in order to distract her father who had an megaton doomsday bomb. you get the idea. anythings possible..


--------------------
The ultimate meaning of our being can only be fulfilled in the paradoxical leap beyond the tragic-demonic frustration. It is a leap from our side, but it is the self-surrendering presence of the Ground of Being from the other side.
- Paul Tillich


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OfflineDoctorJ
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Malachi]
    #1837229 - 08/21/03 02:29 PM (18 years, 5 months ago)

"'For every unthinkably heinous deed, there is at least one situation in which it would be acceptable (use your imagination).'

Incorrect. Outline for us a situation, please, in which it is ethical, moral, good, right -- or whatever other synonym you feel is applicable -- to kidnap a five year old girl, torture her and kill her. Take your time."

How did I know you were going to ask me for a specific example of something like this? :wink:

Let me first tell you that performing such an act, for me anyways, would cause a prohibitivly negative emotional reaction.  If I came upon a situation where kidnapping and killing a 5yo girl seemed like the only solution, it would take a lot of situational leverage to get me to choose that solution.  Maybe if the future of the human race depended on it somehow.  A person with different emotions than me might do it because the girl stole his chipwich, though, not that I'm saying that makes it moral. 

But anyway, the point is not naming a situation in which I would consider it moral.  If I did so, that would be a rule, and I just said there are no rules immune from the influence of the actual situation, didnt I? 

My point is that i simply recognize the possibility of all actions, no matter how heinous, to be moral in the context of an infinite number of situational modifiers.  I'm not saying that its always right or wrong to kill a little girl, or do anything, for that matter.  I'm simply saying that judgements should take into account the context of the situation.  One must remember, that in the universe, there are no absolutes, and universally applied rules are destined to be broken eventually.  Being that the universe is infinite, there has to be at least 1 situation that will occur in space and time in which it is moral to kidnap, torture, and kill a 5 year old girl.


"People who say things like this haven't bothered to spend any time at all thinking things through for themselves."

^^ People who have thought things through for themselves and come to this conclusion must have very little imagination or intellectual flexibility, IMO.


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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Phred]
    #1837600 - 08/21/03 04:21 PM (18 years, 5 months ago)

Ok, so I was mistaken about the Aztecs, but you saw my point, and I saw yours.

I am still stuggling with this though. While it does appear immoral to us, we are still subjectively looking at this from the outside. We are using our ethical mindset to cast judegement. In the context that the world community has deemed it wrong, then it is, because the large majority in these extreme situations do have precidence.

And the scenario with the 5 year old girl was very similar to what happened on last season's "24". A terrorist had planted a nuke in LA, and the only way to get him to talk was begin killing his family in front of him. It was staged of course, they hadn't really killed his sons, but he believed it, and talked.

Because something is justified, does that make it moral?


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I keep it real because I think it is important that a highly esteemed individual such as myself keep it real lest they experience the dreaded spontaneous non-existance of no longer keeping it real. - Hagbard Celine


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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: DoctorJ]
    #1838282 - 08/21/03 07:57 PM (18 years, 5 months ago)

DoctorJ writes:

How did I know you were going to ask me for a specific example of something like this?

Because you claimed such situations could occur. I note you were unable to provide one. Why am I not surprised?

Let me first tell you that performing such an act, for me anyways, would cause a prohibitivly negative emotional reaction. If I came upon a situation... blah blah blah ... still no example.

But anyway, the point is not naming a situation in which I would consider it moral. If I did so, that would be a rule, and I just said there are no rules immune from the influence of the actual situation, didnt I?

So you are using your own arbitrary proclamations to prevent yourself from supporting your own arbitrary proclamations. A clumsy and transparent dodge. I would call it "circular logic" but that would demean the term "logic".

My point is that i simply recognize the possibility of all actions, no matter how heinous, to be moral in the context of an infinite number of situational modifiers.

Such as...?

People who have thought things through for themselves and come to this conclusion must have very little imagination or intellectual flexibility, IMO.

I can't help but note that neither your imagination nor your intellectual flexibility allowed you to produce an example.

pinky


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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: HagbardCeline]
    #1838307 - 08/21/03 08:05 PM (18 years, 5 months ago)

HagbardCeline writes:

While it does appear immoral to us, we are still subjectively looking at this from the outside.

Nothing subjective about it at all. It is a clear violation of Natural Law, and Natural Law is objectively observable and verifiable through experimentation.

In the context that the world community has deemed it wrong, then it is, because the large majority in these extreme situations do have precidence.

I am not sure I am grasping the point you are trying to make. Are you saying that the rightness or wrongness of a given human action is dependent or independent of popular opinion of the moment? Because it isn't.

And the scenario with the 5 year old girl was very similar to what happened on last season's "24". A terrorist had planted a nuke in LA, and the only way to get him to talk was begin killing his family in front of him. It was staged of course, they hadn't really killed his sons, but he believed it, and talked.

I am not talking of "staging" anything. Clearly "staging" in such a context is moral -- no one has in fact been harmed. I asked DoctorJ to propose a scenario where the actual kidnapping, torture, and murder of a five year old girl would be moral.

pinky


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OfflineDoctorJ
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Phred]
    #1839373 - 08/22/03 02:29 AM (18 years, 5 months ago)

hahahahahahahahahahahaha!!

your posts really make my day pinky

:smile: :smile: :smile:


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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Phred]
    #1839624 - 08/22/03 05:46 AM (18 years, 5 months ago)

Even if someone comes up with a scenario where it would be moral to torture and murder a five year old girl, it wouldn't invalidate the general rule. It would only show that there might be some extreme and unusual situation where this would be the lesser evil.

Any rule is just a condensation of many possible specific cases. Just because there may be exceptions to a rule as it is formulated doesn't mean that the basic morality behind the rule is completely relative and arbitrary.


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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Rhizoid]
    #1839845 - 08/22/03 10:01 AM (18 years, 4 months ago)

Rhizoid writes:

Even if someone comes up with a scenario where it would be moral to torture and murder a five year old girl...

...which no one has...

... it wouldn't invalidate the general rule. It would only show that there might be some extreme and unusual situation where this would be the lesser evil.

Correct. Scenarios such as this are often referred to as "The Ethics of Emergencies".

Just because there may be exceptions to a rule as it is formulated doesn't mean that the basic morality behind the rule is completely relative and arbitrary.

Correct again. The creation of a comprehensive and complete body of objective and moral law is an exceedingly exacting process requiring considerable thought, but it is a relatively simple task to check that each law once formulated adheres to the fundamental principle it is supposed to address in more concrete terms.

Too bad legislators rarely take the time to perform this check.

pinky


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Anonymous

Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: Malachi]
    #1839851 - 08/22/03 10:07 AM (18 years, 4 months ago)

ethics/morality (or rather the lack there of) is the largest problem facing america and humanity.

they are incredibly important.


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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: ]
    #1840519 - 08/22/03 01:54 PM (18 years, 4 months ago)

"it wouldn't invalidate the general rule. It would only show that there might be some extreme and unusual situation where this would be the lesser evil. "

'lesser evil' is basically like saying 'greater good'. Classical definitions of what is 'moral' and what is not tend to hinge on the concept of 'greater good'.

Of course, all these rules are man made constructs- an attempt to influence reality rather than learn from it. Thats why I'm so glad pinky turned me on to natural law:

"All individuals have the right to take whatever peaceful actions they deem necessary in order to attempt to further their existence -- that is an objectively verifiable truth, commonly known as "Natural Law". "

Of course, he stuck the word "peaceful" in there to make it look pretty, but there aint nothin peaceful about a lion killing a gazzelle for food. Those are the only "natural laws" I see. The rest of it is up to the individual.

It is possible to lead a prosperous life without affecting people negatively. It is even possible to contribute to the greater good. But it takes wisdom, perspective, and the ability to THINK about situational ethics constantly to make the best possible decisions in the moment. A strict set of codes that are rigourously adhered to will not work for the benefit of the greater good 100% of the time. Adopting a strict moral code is like delegating an important responsibility to an inanimate object. People need to THINK more about how their behavior effects other people, and sharpen their ability to make situational judgement calls.

But thats just my point of view. I dont post on these boards to 'win arguements' BTW, only to express my opinion and provoke others to express theirs so that I may learn from them.

Having said that, I'm interested to know what you guys think about the morality of the mentally disturbed or retarded. What about the situational modifier of diminished capacity? If a person is truly unable to distinguish right from wrong, obviously his actions can be judged, but can we judge him for committing those actions?


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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: DoctorJ]
    #1840671 - 08/22/03 02:38 PM (18 years, 4 months ago)

DoctorJ writes:

Of course, all these rules are man made constructs...

Not quite correct. They are not "constructs", but "discoveries".

...an attempt to influence reality rather than learn from it.

You have it exactly 180 degrees out of phase. Morality is in fact learned from observing reality. "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed."

Of course, he stuck the word "peaceful" in there to make it look pretty...

No, I stuck the word "peaceful" in there to save myself from typing in the essential corollary -- that one must leave all others equally free to act as they see fit. Preventing others from exercising their rights is not peaceful.

...there aint nothin peaceful about a lion killing a gazzelle for food.

The natural law for lions differs from the natural law for humans, which differs from the natural law for bacteria.

But it takes wisdom, perspective, and the ability to THINK about situational ethics constantly to make the best possible decisions in the moment.

Arguably correct. It does not, however, take nearly as much wisdom and perspective to make the most MORAL decisions. There are far fewer variables involved.

A strict set of codes that are rigourously adhered to will not work for the benefit of the greater good 100% of the time.

With the possible exception of emergency situations, yes it will.

Adopting a strict moral code is like delegating an important responsibility to an inanimate object. People need to THINK more about how their behavior effects other people, and sharpen their ability to make situational judgement calls.

Sophistry. Once you discover for yourself that fire burns, it is not necessary to stick your hand in it each and every time you wish to make a decision about fire. Once you have discovered or are convinced by the demonstration of another individual that the sum of the internal angles of a triangle is 180 degrees, it is not necessary to work it all out from scratch over and over whenever you are building something with triangular braces. This economy of thought is called "conceptualizing".

Once you have worked through and internalized the basic principle of Natural Law -- that it is immoral to initiate force against another human, then your recognition of this concept does not act as a strait-jacket or as a mind-deadening ball and chain on your decision-making process. In fact, it makes the business of deciding how your behavior effects others easier.

I dont post on these boards to 'win arguements' BTW, only to express my opinion and provoke others to express theirs so that I may learn from them.

That's good.

I'm interested to know what you guys think about the morality of the mentally disturbed or retarded. What about the situational modifier of diminished capacity? If a person is truly unable to distinguish right from wrong, obviously his actions can be judged, but can we judge him for committing those actions?

The entire concept of morality is based on the fact that we have free will. If one truly cannot choose one act over another, i.e. make choices among various alternatives volitionally, one is incapable of acting immorally. "Not guilty by reason of insanity" and "not guilty by reason of diminished capacity" are the legal terms which acknowledge this situation.

pinky


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OfflineRhizoid
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Re: are "ethics" worth talking about? [Re: DoctorJ]
    #1840774 - 08/22/03 03:08 PM (18 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:

'lesser evil' is basically like saying 'greater good'.



Sorry if I was unclear. When I said "lesser evil", I did not mean this in the same sense as "greater good" when this refers to the interest of any collective, great or not. I meant it in the same sense as when an individual person says "I think both of these alternatives are evil but I'll choose the one that is the least evil".

Regarding the morality of a person with diminished capacity, I think intent should still be taken into account. If there is an intent to act wrong, then it's always worse than if the badness of the act is just a result of ignorance or accident. If that intent was only transient, then it's not as serious as when the intent is part of a larger pattern of bad ideology. So our responses to bad acts should take all such things into account.


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