What is Ethics good for?

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Reply Wed 7 Oct, 2009 03:25 pm
As I reflected on the question "What is Ethics good for?" I came to some tentative conclusions, the main one being that it has the potential of making a better world for us all in which to live. I would argue for this conclusion as follows:

We would like to flourish, to feel we are using our talents, and putting them to effective use. We all can be "geniuses" at something. If a study of (or awareness of a system of) Ethics helps clarify moral value (i.e.,morality) so that as a result we have less value-confusion and come to know enough so that we look for more civilized ways to conduct ourselves rather than pursuing wars, murder, revenge, or societal harm such as dissing, blaming, and putting one another down.]

With regard to Individual Ethics, if each person said to himself:"What are my natural talents and how can I apply them more effectively?" what would be the result? We would find roles and careers in life that utilize our gifts and thus turn them into strengths. We would be willing to acquire new skills and knowledge to do our tasks more successfully. This would enhance our self-respect. Recall that the Oracle at Delphi told Socrates: KNOW THYSELF!

Ethics is a perspective on individuals that is distinctly different than the anatomical/physiological perspective; and different than the socio-economic perspective. The ethical perspective regards an individual as an Intrinsic Value. Various ethical fallacies (errors) are known as racism, sexism, rankism, genderism, speciesism. To regard a person as a thing, or as a mere number (to be erased) are also ethical mistakes. A person is a precious treasure not to be defiled or violated. Abuse and cruelty are unethical.

Do you agree with any of this?

I'd like to hear your opinions and/or analysis on any of these points. Do you agree with me that Ethics has a utility beyond a mere Grade-Point Average; beyond academic honors, outside of the classroom. It can make life more harmonious out in the world. Call this activism if you must. I call it practical realism. Yes, Ethics is very useful and valuable.
 
Wozz
 
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 11:47 pm
@deepthot,
Ethics is extremely valuable. What is ethics good for? Well I think, like you said, it can solve problems for us rather than causing problems (wars, murder, revenge). Only problem is corruption is the counterpart to ones ethics really. While you can end a war you will never end murder. If everyone followed an ethnic code and pursued their talents like you said we would live in perfect harmony.
 
deepthot
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 01:12 am
@Wozz,
Wozz;167975 wrote:
Ethics is extremely valuable. What is ethics good for? Well I think, like you said, it can solve problems for us rather than causing problems (wars, murder, revenge). Only problem is corruption is the counterpart to ones ethics really. While you can end a war you will never end murder. If everyone followed an ethnic code and pursued their talents like you said we would live in perfect harmony.



HOW TO OVERCOME CORRUPTION

We are "corrupt" because we are ignorant of how not to be, and/or because we haven't yet made goodness our goal, at which we aim. We ought to aim to be excellent in whatever project we undertake, aim to master the subject if at all possible. By that I mean we ought to become effective in it, at least an expert in it, if not a real master.

Once we are keenly aware of the benefits of avoiding all traces of corruption out of our life, and once we are smart enough to know how to develop the skills that are directly incompatibile with the type of corruption we have, the contrary good habits to substitute for the bad habit we have, then we will likely no longer be corrupt - in that area.

By the way, Wozz, never is a long time !! What evidence can you offer that we "will never endmurder"? Are you just going by the way we conduct ourselves now?!!!? What does that prove about the future??

Although for centuries multitudes believed the Earth was flat, a few individuals like Copernicus knew it wasn't. Some of those felw may have said to themselves: "People will never stop believing this ignorant garbage!" Was that true? Did their declaring that negative view make it so? Of course not.

I predict that once awareness of Ethics spreads around we will see an astounding reduction in the murder rate on this globe. We shall overcome.


To Wozzz and all Guests and Members:

What did you think of the paper, Ethical Adventures, when you read it? Did you click on the link below and get started on it? Did you study its points? Tell us your impressions. Preferably they will be constructive ones. ...Any suggestions for improvement?
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 01:26 am
@deepthot,
deepthot;95885 wrote:

Ethics is a perspective on individuals that is distinctly different than the anatomical/physiological perspective; and different than the socio-economic perspective. The ethical perspective regards an individual as an Intrinsic Value. Various ethical fallacies (errors) are known as racism, sexism, rankism, genderism, speciesism. To regard a person as a thing, or as a mere number (to be erased) are also ethical mistakes. A person is a precious treasure not to be defiled or violated. Abuse and cruelty are unethical.

I agree with this. I think the our most dangerous human tendency is perhaps to exclude from our sympathy or have contempt for those who do not share our abstractions. I feel that abstractions are what we use to justify cruelty. So and so is lazy. So and so is ignorant. So and so is evil. So and so doesn't believe in god. So and so does believe in god. So and so is ugly. So and so is young. So and so is old.

Basically, we make virtue an abstraction. Of course prohibiting "murder" is a justified abstraction. We have to have abstractions, ethically. But I would like these abstractions to be minimal, and to warn against the danger of holding another human in contempt in the name of mere abstractions.

Hatred and envy are twin brothers. If we overemphasize that human value is based on human accomplishment, we start treating the so -called "mediocre" as expendable. And what is mediocrity if not something related to an abstraction? So I'm agreeing with your intrinsic value. To merely be aware is already "genius," even if this "genius" doesn't help us get to Mars.

We should indeed use our gifts to enrich one another, but these gifts should never obscure the greater gift, which is merely being alive/aware. What single human can offer anything that even begins to compare to whatever this world is that we share?
 
deepthot
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 01:49 am
@deepthot,
Greetings, Reconstructo

Thank you.

Everyone will do better when everyone does better.

I mean this economically, in terms of standard of life, quality of living, but also once they gain the insights that you so generously share with us.

I appreciate your appreciation.


What did you think of my latest mini-treatise --- besides its clarity? I think of it as Part Two of the Unified Theory of Ethiics. I'm already working on Part Three ! (Just click on the link below to scan it, or to print it out.)
 
Humchuckninny
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 09:23 am
@deepthot,
deepthot;95885 wrote:
Ethics is a perspective on individuals that is distinctly different than the anatomical/physiological perspective; and different than the socio-economic perspective. The ethical perspective regards an individual as an Intrinsic Value. Various ethical fallacies (errors) are known as racism, sexism, rankism, genderism, speciesism. To regard a person as a thing, or as a mere number (to be erased) are also ethical mistakes. A person is a precious treasure not to be defiled or violated. Abuse and cruelty are unethical.


But see, all of these make heavy presumptions about an ethical system. There are systems of ethics which are not so different from a physiological or socio-economic perspective.

The ethical perspective does not necessarily regard an individual as having an intrinsic value. Many of the "ethical fallacies" you list would not be considered ethical fallacies by a good number of ethical theories.

In short, what ethics is good for is going to depend upon your system of ethics. I would argue that your arguments only hold weight if we already agree to your ethical system. These are not arguments for what ethics is good for in general, but for the specific application of a presupposed ethical theory.

I am not stating either agreement or disagreement, but simply trying to clarify your question. Are you asking "What is ethics good for?" or "What is this particular system of ethics good for?" The arguments given thus far seem to indicate the latter.
 
Wozz
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 09:48 am
@deepthot,
If you want what ethics is good for in general couldn't you call it a standard of perfection?
 
Humchuckninny
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 10:06 am
@Wozz,
Wozz;168108 wrote:
If you want what ethics is good for in general couldn't you call it a standard of perfection?


Not necessarily. A standard of perfection for whom? The answer to this would change the answer to what ethics is good for. For an altruistic ethical theory could argue standards of perfection for anyone but the altruist, while an egoist could argue for a standard of protection solely for the egoist.

Additionally, what is "perfection?" The term becomes paradoxical, in my opinion. If you have a true standard of perfection, how could you ever achieve it? If it is unachievable, is it still a perfect standard? Many would argue no.

However, if you lower the standard of perfection to include a constraint of that which can be achieved, then you go against the definition of perfect. By definition, if a standard of perfection is lowered, it is no longer perfection.

In my opinion there would only be two ways out of the paradox - either subjective ethics, which has pitfalls upon pitfalls, or you simply deny the "is-ought" fallacy and go with a naturalistic ethic of perfection.
 
Wozz
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 10:15 am
@deepthot,
Nice work Hum, I understand now what you mean now and yes Id agree that perfection is rather paradoxical. This is just what I had discussed in political theory a couple weeks ago.
 
Humchuckninny
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 10:19 am
@Wozz,
Wozz;168117 wrote:
Nice work Hum, I understand now what you mean now and yes Id agree that perfection is rather paradoxical. This is just what I had discussed in political theory a couple weeks ago.


That's interesting, the idea of perfection in political theory? I don't normally dabble in that area, but if the thread is still alive, I'd like to look at it. Do you still have the link?

I was thinking about the standard of perfection criteria for an ethical system, and perhaps you could sidestep and say that every ethical system attempts to define "the good" in either theory or action?
 
Wozz
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 10:26 am
@deepthot,
My professor was tying it in with Plato's "Republic" goodness/justice. I don't have a link for what the discussion was but we were defining this "justice" Plato talks about and somehow we got to the point that it's like picking out the perfect christmas tree, you know...fullness, tall, green etc etc. But you never find something exactly perfect and to relate it to society we said you work towards goodness in society through ethics?
 
HexHammer
 
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 01:11 pm
@deepthot,
deepthot

dear deepthot, I don't really see the deeper ethics in your initial post, I only see a lot of random stuff being mixed together and called ethis, defying my understanding of the definition.

Wozz;168108 wrote:
If you want what ethics is good for in general couldn't you call it a standard of perfection?
Perfection involving humans, and specially democrasy, it's impossible to have such thing. Human nature are filled with greed, selfness, misinterpetation, psycotics ..etc, therefore you can never have perfection in such huge system.
Many has attempted to make perfect systems, such as Karl Marx, but essentially his communistic philosophy was far worse than what he intented to replace, Imo because he only have a very narrow understanding of psycology, of politics, economy, industry ..etc.

You can speak of highly efficient systems, but not perfect.
 
deepthot
 
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 02:34 am
@Humchuckninny,
Humchuckninny;168102 wrote:
But see, all of these make heavy presumptions about an ethical system. There are systems of ethics which are not so different from a physiological or socio-economic perspective.

The ethical perspective does not necessarily regard an individual as having an intrinsic value. Many of the "ethical fallacies" you list would not be considered ethical fallacies by a good number of ethical theories.

In short, what ethics is good for is going to depend upon your system of ethics. I would argue that your arguments only hold weight if we already agree to your ethical system. These are not arguments for what ethics is good for in general, but for the specific application of a presupposed ethical theory.

I am not stating either agreement or disagreement, but simply trying to clarify your question. Are you asking "What is ethics good for?" or "What is this particular system of ethics good for?" The arguments given thus far seem to indicate the latter.


Greeting, Humchuck

Everything you say in this post is correct.

Of course when I ask the question in the o.p., the system of Ethics I have in mind is the one I have proposed. I argue, in the manual, ETHICS: A College Course, that it is superior to any other, and explain why.

Now I will give additional reasons. It is a better theory because

1) it contains variables in its axioms and may thus cover a wider range of applications than any of the rival theories when these variables are interpreted in terms of specific situations and events;
2) it provides a frame-of-reference to which more sub-models can cohere;
3) this paradigm is a synthesis of the prevailing conventional schools of thought that the academy teaches, with its stress on character, happiness; human dignity, universality, obligations, sanctions, conscience, varied phenomonological perspectives, etc., etc.
4) it has a logical thread of reasoning which binds the system together;
5) it has been already applied to a wide range of concrete issues and has provided some sensible, tentative answers;
6) it is compatible with the many and varied forms of The Golden Rule;
7) it incorporates principles such as the avoidance of causing suffering; natural rights based upon human nature; cultural evolution; avoidance of double standards, etc.etc.
8) it has a calculus of values which enables deductions of new principles;
9) it overlaps with and confirms with Phenomenology's conception of Intensionality in its definition of the term "Intrinsic Value";
10) It manages to define "good" in a manner that avoids committing The Naturalistic Fallacy propounded by G. E. Moore since it employs set theory and class membership;
11) it derives a series of 'ethical fallacies' and shows why they are errors in reasoning;
12) it is expandable and has what Hempel calls 'theoretical and empirical impport';
13) it can embrace multi-cultural schools of ethical thought such as shinto ethics, confuciianism, buddhistic ethics, etc., which the maijor academic theories cannot comforably do; and
14) it has a theory of justice, of authenticity, of ethical evolution, and is able to explain things that the other schools cannot;
15) it is able to define exactly what "Ethics" is as a study in its own right; it also defines with some precision "morality" and "hypocrisy" and shows how they vary inversely;
16) it applies to business and management and shares a common premise.with the prevailing principle that drives enterprises, namely to add value.

For alll these reasons, and more, you should drop the rest and embrace the one that has more features relevant to the field, for it complies with the definition of "a better theory". No other theory provides a definition of key tems such as 'better,' 'appreciation,' 'bad,' 'fair,' 'ought', 'approval' etc, yet this one does..

Click on the link below, and on the links in the Preface to get a fuller picture of the entire theory:
 
Ding an Sich
 
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 03:24 pm
@deepthot,
deepthot;95885 wrote:
As I reflected on the question "What is Ethics good for?" I came to some tentative conclusions, the main one being that it has the potential of making a better world for us all in which to live. I would argue for this conclusion as follows:

We would like to flourish, to feel we are using our talents, and putting them to effective use. We all can be "geniuses" at something. If a study of (or awareness of a system of) Ethics helps clarify moral value (i.e.,morality) so that as a result we have less value-confusion and come to know enough so that we look for more civilized ways to conduct ourselves rather than pursuing wars, murder, revenge, or societal harm such as dissing, blaming, and putting one another down.]

With regard to Individual Ethics, if each person said to himself:"What are my natural talents and how can I apply them more effectively?" what would be the result? We would find roles and careers in life that utilize our gifts and thus turn them into strengths. We would be willing to acquire new skills and knowledge to do our tasks more successfully. This would enhance our self-respect. Recall that the Oracle at Delphi told Socrates: KNOW THYSELF!

Ethics is a perspective on individuals that is distinctly different than the anatomical/physiological perspective; and different than the socio-economic perspective. The ethical perspective regards an individual as an Intrinsic Value. Various ethical fallacies (errors) are known as racism, sexism, rankism, genderism, speciesism. To regard a person as a thing, or as a mere number (to be erased) are also ethical mistakes. A person is a precious treasure not to be defiled or violated. Abuse and cruelty are unethical.

Do you agree with any of this?

I'd like to hear your opinions and/or analysis on any of these points. Do you agree with me that Ethics has a utility beyond a mere Grade-Point Average; beyond academic honors, outside of the classroom. It can make life more harmonious out in the world. Call this activism if you must. I call it practical realism. Yes, Ethics is very useful and valuable.


Have you read anything on Kant's ethics? He seems right up your alley. It seems as though ethics is a necessary part of humans (if not the most necessary). When I do/read philosophy, my central theme is, "how does epistemic knowledge I aqcuire/ think about correspond to ethics"? Funny that I constructed an ethical system before I constructed an epistemological system. Just something to think about.

Or maybe they both come about at the same time... seems that way now that I think about it.
 
reasoning logic
 
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 05:34 pm
@deepthot,
deepthot;168468 wrote:
Greeting, Humchuck

Everything you say in this post is correct.

Of course when I ask the question in the o.p., the system of Ethics I have in mind is the one I have proposed. I argue, in the manual, ETHICS: A College Course, that it is superior to any other, and explain why.

Now I will give additional reasons. It is a better theory because

1) it contains variables in its axioms and may thus cover a wider range of applications than any of the rival theories when these variables are interpreted in terms of specific situations and events;
2) it provides a frame-of-reference to which more sub-models can cohere;
3) this paradigm is a synthesis of the prevailing conventional schools of thought that the academy teaches, with its stress on character, happiness; human dignity, universality, obligations, sanctions, conscience, varied phenomonological perspectives, etc., etc.
4) it has a logical thread of reasoning which binds the system together;
5) it has been already applied to a wide range of concrete issues and has provided some sensible, tentative answers;
6) it is compatible with the many and varied forms of The Golden Rule;
7) it incorporates principles such as the avoidance of causing suffering; natural rights based upon human nature; cultural evolution; avoidance of double standards, etc.etc.
8) it has a calculus of values which enables deductions of new principles;
9) it overlaps with and confirms with Phenomenology's conception of Intensionality in its definition of the term "Intrinsic Value";
10) It manages to define "good" in a manner that avoids committing The Naturalistic Fallacy propounded by G. E. Moore since it employs set theory and class membership;
11) it derives a series of 'ethical fallacies' and shows why they are errors in reasoning;
12) it is expandable and has what Hempel calls 'theoretical and empirical impport';
13) it can embrace multi-cultural schools of ethical thought such as shinto ethics, confuciianism, buddhistic ethics, etc., which the maijor academic theories cannot comforably do; and
14) it has a theory of justice, of authenticity, of ethical evolution, and is able to explain things that the other schools cannot;
15) it is able to define exactly what "Ethics" is as a study in its own right; it also defines with some precision "morality" and "hypocrisy" and shows how they vary inversely;
16) it applies to business and management and shares a common premise.with the prevailing principle that drives enterprises, namely to add value.

For alll these reasons, and more, you should drop the rest and embrace the one that has more features relevant to the field, for it complies with the definition of "a better theory". No other theory provides a definition of key tems such as 'better,' 'appreciation,' 'bad,' 'fair,' 'ought', 'approval' etc, yet this one does..

Click on the link below, and on the links in the Preface to get a fuller picture of the entire theory:


Hi deepthot. You know that I value your work as there are not many who strive as you do to get ethics right. You make a couple of comments that may seem self righteous to others and may steer them away from your work.
[I argue, in the manual, ETHICS: A College Course, that it is superior to any other, and explain why] [you should drop the rest and embrace the one that has more features relevant to the field, for it complies with the definition of "a better theory". No other theory provides a definition of key tems such as 'better,' 'appreciation,' 'bad,' 'fair,' 'ought', 'approval' etc, yet this one does..]
I myself do not care so much as I do not think you mean any harm in what you say and all that I care about is that we advance in the way we understand ethics. As you have stated the world relies on it in order to advance into a better a civilization.Smile
 
deepthot
 
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 01:35 am
@deepthot,
Self-righteousness has nothing to do with it. The scientific attitude and ethic is one of humility. All the findings in the Unified Theory of Ethics are tentative and subject to revision and modification. I will abandon that theory in a moment if I see that a better theory has come along.

When a contention is made, reasons ought to be given to support it, wouldn't you agree?

Some contend that the theory we here are constructing as an Open Source project is better than some of the alternatives. Why? For the 16 or 17 reasons given in an earlier post.

Based upon reason a reader will be able to decide which theory s/he wants to embrace. Each person may choolse for himself. He may decide he wants the one that has more features relevant to the field, and thus complies with the definition of "a better theory."
 
HexHammer
 
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 05:07 am
@deepthot,
deepthot;168942 wrote:
Self-righteousness has nothing to do with it. The scientific attitude and ethic is one of humility. All the findings in the Unified Theory of Ethics are tentative and subject to revision and modification. I will abandon that theory in a moment if I see that a better theory has come along.

When a contention is made, reasons ought to be given to support it, wouldn't you agree?

Some contend that the theory we here are constructing as an Open Source project is better than some of the alternatives. Why? For the 16 or 17 reasons given in an earlier post.

Based upon reason a reader will be able to decide which theory s/he wants to embrace. Each person may choolse for himself. He may decide he wants the one that has more features relevant to the field, and thus complies with the definition of "a better theory."
We are here to discuss a topic/subject, not here to endulge in your works, it is not a place for self interest.

Poor ethics.
 
apehead
 
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 06:36 am
@deepthot,
I'm sure this is rehashed, but after reading this thread, I wonder why a fixed system of secular ethics is required at all? If the vast majority of humanity already can agree on a few basic rules of interaction, why bother codifying the minutiae? Wouldn't it be easier (and eventually more effective) to let the market of human interaction decide which actions are appropriate or inappropriate for a given scenario?
 
deepthot
 
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 07:23 pm
@apehead,
apehead;169011 wrote:
I'm sure this is rehashed, but after reading this thread, I wonder why a fixed system of secular ethics is required at all? If the vast majority of humanity already can agree on a few basic rules of interaction, why bother codifying the minutiae? Wouldn't it be easier (and eventually more effective) to let the market of human interaction decide which actions are appropriate or inappropriate for a given scenario?


Greeetings, apehead

Thank you for your input. It shows you have been seriously thinking about the topic of tgpic of this thread.

How has it worked for you so far? I mean the War on Iraq, the action on the Climate Change disasters, the ecologicical damage in The Gulf of Texaco becaue a private corporation, pursuing free-market private enterprise, has done its thing. I'm speaking of British Petroleum.

In Hatii as well as in Somalia they have what all libertarians dream of: total anarchy - but they have what you described in your post: they do have some social principles of interaction, some civilizing principles.

Going by your standards why wouldn't we have had The Inquisition? After all, Augustine, who started the torture techniques later used in a big way, was a "Saint." --No moral confusion there, right?

Do you really, in your heart, believe that religion is doing such a supremely-great job in teaching ethics? As a result of all their years of work have we abated corruption? Reconstructo and HexHammer don't think so. But maybe you see it clearer and have other ideas.

Perhaps a secular discipline, a focused study, a "scientia," can do a better job.
 
Ding an Sich
 
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 06:25 am
@deepthot,
deepthot;169338 wrote:
Greeetings, apehead

Thank you for your input. It shows you have been seriously thinking about the topic of tgpic of this thread.

How has it worked for you so far? I mean the War on Iraq, the action on the Climate Change disasters, the ecologicical damage in The Gulf of Texaco becaue a private corporation, pursuing free-market private enterprise, has done its thing. I'm speaking of British Petroleum.

In Hatii as well as in Somalia they have what all libertarians dream of: total anarchy - but they have what you described in your post: they do have some social principles of interaction, some civilizing principles.

Going by your standards why wouldn't we have had The Inquisition? After all, Augustine, who started the torture techniques later used in a big way, was a "Saint." --No moral confusion there, right?

Do you really, in your heart, believe that religion is doing such a supremely-great job in teaching ethics? As a result of all their years of work have we abated corruption? Reconstructo and HexHammer don't think so. But maybe you see it clearer and have other ideas.

Perhaps a secular discipline, a focused study, a "scientia," can do a better job.


So we should now rely on the secular, as a science, to provide for us the foundations of ethics? Well we have Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Mill, Nietzsche, Rand, and a whole assortment of others for that. We seem to have a pretty good foundation of ethics from the secular perspective. Hell we even have philosophers who have considered it a science (Kant), or "focused study" as you have called it.

Maybe its not the background (secular or sacred) that is the problem for our corruption: maybe its in ourselves. But then again maybe im wrong.
 
 

 
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