reasoning logic;147250 wrote:
As the title reads, Is it a joke to study ethics? if so please explain why. :poke-eye:
I am a little confused by the apparent hostility in this thread. The original question seems a straightforward request for opinions. So I'll offer mine cautiously, so as not to offend anyone.
I do not think that the study of ethics is a joke. It does not appeal to everyone, nor do I expect the popularity of this branch of philosophy to increase. Unfortunately, those it does attract are often satisfied to leave it an adjunct to a larger cosmic or political vision, and lose sight of vital issues at hand in the midst of pedantic bickering with metaphysically contrary perspectives -- limiting the potential effectiveness of their ethical insights. However, even those who choose to avoid studying the topic abstractly find themselves making ethical decisions on a daily basis. So, whether one wants to regard it as worthy of study seems a bit beyond the point, ethics is inevitable.
We are all born into a world filled with other people. Unable to take care of ourselves as children, we begin by being dependent upon these others for survival. Later in life, while there are some rugged individualists out there living entirely independently, for most of us this need for others remains a constant condition. Our ability to provide for ourselves may improve, but our needs and desires develop apace. A large portion of our time is taken up with dealing with our fellow human beings: what we continue to need from them, what we want from them, and how best to deal with what they want and need from us. We may pursue our own interests, but we are rarely in a position where we do not have to take other people into account in some form. They are very difficult to avoid. This uncomfortable circumstance is what impels some people to consider larger ethical questions.
I must say though, that I do not think that there are any final answers in this branch of philosophy. As society changes so too will ethical thinking be forced to adapt. It is an area of thought that must balance principles with pragmatics, and no solution to ethical issues will remain permanently or universally applicable.
Incidentally, I'm not sure what a true ethics would look like, but regardless I think its truth value would be beside the point. Ethics is the use of reason (whatever that may be) to improve our ability to communicate with one another and to resolve conflicts of interest. And while I don't think that it's a joke, it does usually go a little better if you have a sense of humor.