What is Ethics good for?

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apehead
 
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 06:45 am
@deepthot,
deepthot;169338 wrote:
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.

The fact that you seem to find these events at odds with your personal aesthetic values does not necessarily make them "wrong" in an actual sense. They are the results of individuals acting to achieve ends. To propose that an action is correct or incorrect, you must first be able to identify the desired outcome. Failure to do so is to arbitrarily determine your personal ends are of more value, or more important to the acting party than their own personal ends.

deepthot;169338 wrote:
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.

That's right. Even in an anarchic situation, common law will spontaneously manifest itself, based on local tribal or other cultural similarity between members of a society.

deepthot;169338 wrote:
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?


That's a good example of why I find hard copies of "Laws" so unsettling. They are open to interpretation by politicians, lawyers, popes, etc.. Once you claim an idea as truth, you are allowing it to be corrupted by imperfect men.

deepthot;169338 wrote:
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.


In all honesty, any person who claims real knowledge is suspect in my eyes, religious or "secular" (although all claims of true knowledge are faith based statements, so I'm not sure the is a secular arm of "truth").

"All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth." - Nietzsche
 
Ding an Sich
 
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 07:39 am
@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?


Do you think there is something innate about ethics? It seems good to cover all the various details of ethics, although it does led to semantics and details that can overwhelm at times. Would letting the market of human interaction deciding what actions are appropriate or innapropriate for a given standard rely upon some sort of standard e.g., pain and pleasure?
 
apehead
 
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 08:30 am
@Ding an Sich,
Ding_an_Sich;169525 wrote:
Do you think there is something innate about ethics?

I would say no, since ethics is meaningless for the individual, but I do think that spontaneous guidelines for interaction between individuals arises as a natural consequence of individuals attempting to achieve commonly held goals.
Ding_an_Sich;169525 wrote:
It seems good to cover all the various details of ethics, although it does led to semantics and details that can overwhelm at times.

Covering all aspects of ethics seems impossible and unnecessary to me. In the process of interaction aimed at goals, individuals will assume all the protocol necessary, without arbitrarily drawing lines in the sand.
Ding_an_Sich;169525 wrote:
Would letting the market of human interaction deciding what actions are appropriate or innapropriate for a given standard rely upon some sort of standard e.g., pain and pleasure?


The standard cannot be determined without the considering the ends. Pain and pleasure are terms relative to the individual, so enacting broad standards of conduct based upon them would result in a set of principles completely unique to every individual, just the same as not having any standard whatsoever. So why bother?
 
Ding an Sich
 
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 08:45 am
@apehead,
apehead;169538 wrote:
I would say no, since ethics is meaningless for the individual, but I do think that spontaneous guidelines for interaction between individuals arises as a natural consequence of individuals attempting to achieve commonly held goals.

Covering all aspects of ethics seems impossible and unnecessary to me. In the process of interaction aimed at goals, individuals will assume all the protocol necessary, without arbitrarily drawing lines in the sand.


The standard cannot be determined without the considering the ends. Pain and pleasure are terms relative to the individual, so enacting broad standards of conduct based upon them would result in a set of principles completely unique to every individual, just the same as not having any standard whatsoever. So why bother?


Well then ethics does seem meaningful precisely to the individual because they (individuals) want to achieve a community of held goals. They take it upon themselves to do so (with of course the help of others). Do you mean that if an individual doesnt want to deal with a community then ethics does not apply to him?

Im not saying that we should cover all aspects of ethics from the outset, but that when a question arises concerning ethics dont you think we might need to answer it? Its progressive in a sense; when we are presented with something we have to figure it out.

Wouldnt creating more pleasure over pain be the end of the standard of pleasure and pain? This leads us into a problem however when dealing with, as you said, pleasures and pains relative to the individual. Im not advocating this, I am just curious as to whether youre advocating a standard or not (or at least imply one). But I suppose not.

Do you break ethics down into parts? What I mean to say is that are there parts to what you call ethics that deal with 1) Virtue (Morality) and 2) Right (Legal Law)? Just curious is all.
 
apehead
 
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 10:32 am
@Ding an Sich,
Ding_an_Sich;169542 wrote:
Well then ethics does seem meaningful precisely to the individual because they (individuals) want to achieve a community of held goals. They take it upon themselves to do so (with of course the help of others). Do you mean that if an individual doesnt want to deal with a community then ethics does not apply to him?

I meant that if a human had no interaction with the world, he would not conceive of ethics, so I'm not sure that I would consider them intrinsic to the human psyche.

Ding_an_Sich;169542 wrote:
Im not saying that we should cover all aspects of ethics from the outset, but that when a question arises concerning ethics dont you think we might need to answer it? Its progressive in a sense; when we are presented with something we have to figure it out.

Fundamentally, ethical questions are impossible to answer. Actions are means to achieve ends. To determine whether or not an action is appropriate, we would have to know the end said action is meant to achieve. The question now becomes "what ends are appropriate?" Which is meta-* (physical, ethical, etc.) type question, which are, by their nature, unanswerable. Ethical questions resolve themselves via the market of human interaction and the spontaneous creation of common law, rather than philosophical central planning.

Ding_an_Sich;169542 wrote:
Wouldnt creating more pleasure over pain be the end of the standard of pleasure and pain? This leads us into a problem however when dealing with, as you said, pleasures and pains relative to the individual. Im not advocating this, I am just curious as to whether youre advocating a standard or not (or at least imply one). But I suppose not.

As stated above, standards are arbitrary.

Ding_an_Sich;169542 wrote:
Do you break ethics down into parts? What I mean to say is that are there parts to what you call ethics that deal with 1) Virtue (Morality) and 2) Right (Legal Law)? Just curious is all.

I don't really see the two as distinct, since legal law is just coercive application of morality.
 
Jackofalltrades phil
 
Reply Thu 27 May, 2010 12:51 pm
@deepthot,
Ethics is Experience
Ethics is logic of good human behaviour
Ethics reinforces human systems
Ethics is vital for survival
Ethics is irrevocable under civilisations
Ethics is important for prosperity
Ethics is indipensible
Ethics is the path of human beings future
Ethics means growth


Ethics in other words means order and peace.
 
deepthot
 
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 01:38 am
@Ding an Sich,
Ding_an_Sich;169506 wrote:
So we should now rely on the secular, as a science, to provide for us the foundations of ethics?

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


Hi there, Ding

Don't confuse Botany with the rose: the rose smells, Botany does not.
In other words, be careful not to commit what has been named The Fallacy of Method, viz., confusing theory with the data the theory purports to order and explain. [See R. S. Hartman, THE STRUCTURE OF VALUE, for details on six basic value fallacies.]

Of course the problem is in ourselves. {That's the data.} The question is: what precisely to do about it. That's where a good theory comes in.

If a theory (or system) can provide clear and accurate guidance as to how to change ourselves in a positive direction, and make it so unmistakably crystal clear that we gyp ourselves, robbing ourselves of real value, if we fail to choose one way of life rather than other tempting alternatives - then it is a good ethics theory, one that we should gravitate towards ...especially if it is capable of synthesizing concepts and ideas from all those sources you mention in your recent post, and then some.

To discover one paradigm which may just do that, especially if you get to study the lbooks listed in the Bibliography -- particularly the last one - which I did not write, but wish I had (and which is just about to hit the bookstores in a week or so) -- click on the link below and get some background in a new philosophy with potential. It is the frame-of-reference alluded to in the o.p. This is a win/win all around.

---------- Post added 05-28-2010 at 04:13 AM ----------

This is a revision of an earlier post in accordance with your wise comments:

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.


That's good. That the latest system has its roots in the history of ideas serves as confirmation for it, and for these systems, doesn't it?


Humchuckninny;168102In 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. [B wrote:
These are not arguments for what ethics is good for in general, but for the specific application of a presupposed ethical theory.[/B]
am not stating ...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 your 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 proposed in the manual, ETHICS: A College Course - (ask Google) - and in the supplementary essays which extend and fill out the picture more adequately. You are right that it was a "presupposed ethical theory." Appendix Three of that paper exhibits a toolbox which contains some of those other perspectives to which you refer.

Here are some reasons why some, e.g., Salima, reasoned logic, and Jack-of-all-Trades, among others, might prefer this new paradigm as 'a better theory' if they do.

A good theory, in the field of ethics, I would argue, is one which would possess these features:

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 perhaps give it some consideration, if you care to.

We may ask: Does this particular set of models comply with the definition of "a better theory".?

Does any other theory besides Formal Axiology, which was devised by Dr. R. S. Hartman - which, as you know, serves as the meta-language for the Katz theory - provide a definition of key tems such as 'better,' 'good', 'appreciation,' 'bad,' 'fair,' 'ought', 'approval' etc,? (A rhetorical question; for no other does to my knowledge ...though I may be quite ignorant.)

Click on the link below, and on the links in the Preface to get a fuller picture of the entire theory, if you're interested to broaden horizons, and to learn of a rather-new perspective:
(It goes without saying that no one has to do any reading, or get any background in new ethical literature. Only those who have the time, and who are curious to learn would do so.)
 
Jackofalltrades phil
 
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 10:15 am
@deepthot,
Hi dt,

[QUOTE]If a theory (or system) can provide clear and accurate guidance as to how to change ourselves in a positive direction, and make it so unmistakably crystal clear that we gyp ourselves, robbing ourselves of real value, if we fail to choose one way of life rather than other tempting alternatives - then it is a good ethics theory, one that we should gravitate towards ...especially if it is capable of synthesizing concepts and ideas from all those sources you mention in your recent post, and then some.[/QUOTE]

I must agree with you here.

I also humbly would like to believe what you are attempting to say as correct and good for human society. I also know you are on the right side. For example, in your book, the ethical question of a wife's action in a cannabilistic society and her beliefs, does not and may be rejected outrightly from a modern perspective. The contextual basis is important in creating value to an action.

It is understandable for the same reasons that an intrinsic value may have to be contextualised according to cultures, geographies, epochs and intellectual and technological advancement. Eating human flesh is absolutely wrong, we all tend to readily agree with it, but at one point and place it may not have been that wrong.

The idea that it is wrong is a development of thought via the intellect. The universality of ethics can only be accepted and applied if the standard of intellect is universalised. And this you rightly say can happen only through education - a form of applied ethics.

My question to you, in all humility, however is - is it humanly possible to 'choose one way of life' as mentioned by you. And than, which is that 'one way of life'. I can partly understand the directions of the Universal Ethics may take following the 16 models you take as criteria's, but with 6.5 billion human heads would it not be an onerous task to build such a theory and apply it on the field.
 
deepthot
 
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 02:32 am
@deepthot,
Yes, Jack, it would be.

So let's get started, let's take the first steps. The theory can be, and will be improved as we go.

The way of life that we choose may be a very diverse one, a blend of the best from all the world's cultures.

In the United States today, for example, we have nude beaches and the Amish; we have wrestling matches and philosophy conferences; we have gambling casinos and up-tight people who wouldn't dream of going near one; we have Hawiian native culture on Lanai, Native American reservations, and we have St. Patrick's Day, Columbus Day, Cinco de Mayo celebrations; etc. Great diversity ! All in the same land. World culture will eventually tend in the direction of the USA's exanole, if it's not happening already.

The ideal to aim for is variety within unity; out of the many, One.
 
Jackofalltrades phil
 
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 06:33 am
@deepthot,
Agreed to the fullest.

Show me the way!
 
 

 
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