Scope of Ethics

Pages

AuthorTopic: Scope of Ethics
BANNED
Member # 13806
Profile #0
I was told to begin an academic topic, so: What do you believe is the scope of ethics? How much authority do you think ethics currently holds over us in our daily lives? How much authority do you think ethics should hold over us?

I do not have any set opinions on this matter, so I would be interested to hear what you have to say.
Posts: 134 | Registered: Sunday, February 3 2008 08:00
? Man, ? Amazing
Member # 5755
Profile #1
I think you need to begin by defining the following:
  • authority
  • daily lives
Otherwise this thread will go to 7 pages before we notice it is about ID.

--------------------
Synergy, et al - "I don't get it."

Argon - "I'm at a loss for words..."
Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
BANNED
Member # 13806
Profile #2
It strikes me that you are asking a leading question, which I have already stated my desire to have answered by others. That being said, an alternative definition of ethics is, "that which has nothing to do with which platform you use, the origin of species, or whether or not we are safer from the terrorists yet." :rolleyes:
Posts: 134 | Registered: Sunday, February 3 2008 08:00
Post Navel Trauma ^_^
Member # 67
Profile Homepage #3
Everyone should do what I think is right.

--------------------
Barcoorah: I even did it to a big dorset ram.

New Mac BoE
Posts: 1798 | Registered: Thursday, October 4 2001 07:00
...b10010b...
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #4
quote:
Originally written by Khoth:

Everyone but me should do what I think is right.
Fixed your typo.

Really, "a set of rules that I want everybody to follow, except me when I can get away with not following them" is a fairly good working definition of a code of ethics.

[ Friday, February 08, 2008 15:51: Message edited by: Thuryl ]

--------------------
The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 6785
Profile #5
"I'm a firm believer in situational ethics, and this is one of those situations."

From the first volume of that great multi-volume work on ethics by Robert Asprin entitled, Another Fine Myth. Definitions only help when everyone agrees upon the terms.
Posts: 4643 | Registered: Friday, February 10 2006 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 335
Profile Homepage #6
I really do think you need to define ethics better. Do you mean our own personal codes of ethics? Some kind of societally imposed code? The branch of philosophy?

—Alorael, who believes the scope of ethics is given by definition (field) or by opinion (code) and that its authority as a field is zero and its reach as a personal code is very obviously everywhere. Not everyone always does what they believe is right, but everyone always at least thinks about what they think is right.
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 2984
Profile Homepage #7
If you asked "how much control should your ethics have over your actions", and define "ethics" as values that you genuinely believe everyone, including you, has to follow, and "actions" as ones that you do knowingly and in full possession of wits, the answer will always be "complete" - it already does, by definition.

What does it imply if you do an action that you yourself would describe as unethical?

You have determined, rationally or emotionally or instinctively, that there is a circumstance that justifies the action and takes precedence over the rule - this may be "he insulted my girlfriend" overruling your value of "Thou shalt not beat up people", or "he was coming at me with a knife" overruling "Thou shalt not kill", or "I just really want a cookie" overruling "Thou shalt not stuff Thyself with sweets because Thy deity hates fat people".

In all these cases, the ethics can be reworded more accurately to reflect what circumstances (which you knew all along, if not consciously) would make you violate them.

Or, to summarize, if you violate your own ethics willingly, that means you didn't genuinely believe you should follow them, which means they weren't your own ethics in the first place. This doesn't excuse "unethical" (in the view of others) behavior of course, because if your real ethics do not reflect the real ethics that society can usually agree on (don't lie, steal, rape, hurt, kill), you may be a danger to said society.

--------------------
The Noble and Ancient Order of Polaris - We're Not Yet Dead.
EncyclopediaBlades ForgeArchivesStatsRSS (This Topic / Forum) • BlogNaNoWriMo
Did-chat thentagoespyet jumund fori is jus, hat onlime gly nertan ne gethen Firyoubbit 'obio.'
Decorum deserves a whole line of my signature, and an entry in your bookmarks.
Posts: 8752 | Registered: Wednesday, May 14 2003 07:00
? Man, ? Amazing
Member # 5755
Profile #8
Meh. Don't make me beat you up.

Edit -
quote:
the real ethics that society can usually agree on (don't get caught), you may be a danger to said society.
FYT. Really. What kind of citizen are you?

[ Friday, February 08, 2008 23:34: Message edited by: Jumpin' Salmon ]

--------------------
Synergy, et al - "I don't get it."

Argon - "I'm at a loss for words..."
Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
Law Bringer
Member # 2984
Profile Homepage #9
I confess, I cross the street on red traffic lights. And I forget to buy train tickets sometimes. And I use BitTorrent. I'm a hardened criminal. :(

[ Saturday, February 09, 2008 01:24: Message edited by: Arancaytar ]

--------------------
The Noble and Ancient Order of Polaris - We're Not Yet Dead.
EncyclopediaBlades ForgeArchivesStatsRSS (This Topic / Forum) • BlogNaNoWriMo
Did-chat thentagoespyet jumund fori is jus, hat onlime gly nertan ne gethen Firyoubbit 'obio.'
Decorum deserves a whole line of my signature, and an entry in your bookmarks.
Posts: 8752 | Registered: Wednesday, May 14 2003 07:00
Agent
Member # 2759
Profile Homepage #10
The question leaves me nonplussed. If ethics have a scope, it seems to me it allows one to pick and choose to do whatever one wants while remaining "ethical". I was always of the opinion that speaking of e.g. "medical ethics" or "business ethics" really referred to the application of ethics in general to a particular field.

I do like Randomizer's quote about situational ethics, though. :cool:

--------------------
Geneforge 4 stuff. Also, everything I know about Avernum | Avernum 2 | Avernum 3 | Avernum 4
Posts: 1104 | Registered: Monday, March 10 2003 08:00
Lifecrafter
Member # 6700
Profile Homepage #11
quote:
From the Lenarian Dictionary of Obscure Terms:

Authority: n., The power that I innately have over you that makes you want to obey me. Occasionally, authority allows for the demonstration of pain as punishment for disobedience.

Daily Life: n., An obscure standard of normalcy generated through melancholy or nostalgic wonderings about an imagined or incorrectly percieved past.

Deontological Ethics: n., An ethical system through which actions are dictated by strict policy. For example: Speed limits should only be reached while passing.

Ethical Scenario: n., A decision in which all acceptable outcomes suck.

Ethical Scope: n., The amount that any given end (in Teleological systems) or principle (in Deontological systems) applies to the given scenario. The standard Ethical Scope for any given situation is "none".

Ethics: n., The amorphous field of study through which we demonstrate that we are in the right, and the other guy is in the wrong.

Mixed Deontology: n., An ethical system that uses both principles and ends to determine the proper outcome. For example: God says that I shouldn't kill; but if I do, I'll inherit $4 Million, so I'm gonna do it anyway. I just won't do it on the Sabbath.

Situation Ethics: n., An ethical system based on a mixed deontological view, which makes exceptions to both principles and quantifiable ends when the situation calls for it. The standard procedure for deciding when Situation Ethics comes into play is asking, "Is this a situation?"

Teleological Ethics: n., An ethical system through which the end quantifiably justifies the means. For example: I can give you fifty dollars for that used game, or I can beat you up and get it for free.

Virtue Ethics: n., An ethical system for which actions and ends are moot, and life is instead guided by the innate character of the individual. For example: I'm a nice guy, therefore I'm always right.
Edit: Whoops. Out of alphabetical order.

--------------------
The Silent Assassin ripped off Rawles' Veil of Ignorance and forced Kant's Categorical Imperative to stand down.
I can't believe he's tearing up the neighbors' homes again.

[ Saturday, February 09, 2008 03:07: Message edited by: Lenar ]

--------------------
-Lenar Labs
What's Your Destiny?

Ushmushmeifa: Lenar's power is almighty and ineffable.

I like speaking my mind, when the voices let me hear it.
Posts: 735 | Registered: Monday, January 16 2006 08:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #12
The traditional scope of ethics is, of course, universal. But what that means can vary considerably. Is ethics about principles or about consequences? Is it about individuals, or about everyone?

quote:
Originally written by Immanuel Kant:

You should always act according to principles that you believe should apply to everyone else as well.
This so-called 'categorical imperative' is a kind of more abstract variation on the 'Golden Rule' as endorsed by Jesus of Nazareth, which is also universal in scope, of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.

But the two rules are different in interesting ways. The Golden Rule only needs you to have an idea about how you wish other people to act towards you; you don't need to formulate any views on how they should act towards each other. Jesus in fact strongly discouraged all judgement of other people, saying that to judge others was to be judged oneself, and was therefore to be avoided. The categorical imperative in effect says that you must judge others, because that is how you should judge yourself. This is arguably either an ethical advance, or a catastrophe, because it introduces social as opposed to individual morality. In this sense the Golden Rule is bilateral while the categorical imperative is multilateral, in their contexts.

Both rules are of course unilateral, however, in the sense that they insist you act a certain way, based on how you think other people should act, regardless of how other people actually do act.

The Golden Rule also speaks only about acting and wanting, not about principles. Although it is not necessarily practical in the usual sense — it can get you killed — it is expressed in practical terms. This is perhaps in line with Jesus's moral empiricism: "judge the tree by its fruit." The categorical imperative speaks in the first place about principles, and rather assumes that making events actually follow principles is trivial. In this sense Jesus and Kant are diametrically opposed: Jesus judges principles by their practical consequences, and Kant judges actions by the principles on which they are based.

Kant did also introduce the notion of 'imperatives of skill', meaning that you are morally obligated to enable yourself to implement your principles successfully in practice. So Kant was by no means so naive as to assume everyone was an ideological giant robot, always fully willing and fully able to put their principles into action successfully. But I believe it is one of the standard criticisms of Kant's ethics, that its primary emphasis on principles rather than consequences makes it too easy to justify bad consequences on the grounds of good intentions.

Kant also argued that human beings had to be considered morally as 'ends in themselves'. He was anti-utilitarian, as I understand him, and would not countenance any weighing of means against ends where human beings were concerned. But even this formulation tends to leave human beings only on the same level as other ends, such as ideological goals, and so arguably makes it easier to let ideology trump human rights and claim it as moral high ground.

Jesus's ethics, on the other hand, is local and quietistic, at least as I understand it. It's about individuals and their neighbors rather than societies or states, today rather than tomorrow, turning the other cheek and accepting suffering rather than employing hard means to better ends. It explicitly discourages moral thinking about the distant future, or distant places, or bigger pictures. I have a feeling my Christian ethics is missing something here, but this post is already long enough, so I won't include rambling speculations about what it might be.

--------------------
Listen carefully because some of your options may have changed.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 2123
Profile #13
quote:
Originally written by Lenar:

quote:
From the Lenarian Dictionary of Obscure Terms:

Authority: n., The power that I innately have over you that makes you want to obey me. Occasionally, authority allows for the demonstration of pain as punishment for disobedience.

Edit: Whoops. Out of alphabetical order.


I beleive that authority is the respect or honor that others give to someone. The moment that they loose that respect or honor, then they have no authority because they wont be obyed.

--------------------
"The President finally had what he wanted. The President had a planet. All to himself." -A Planet For The President
Posts: 228 | Registered: Monday, October 21 2002 07:00
BANNED
Member # 13806
Profile #14
Salmon: I'll try my best. ;)

Arancaytar: Welcome to the akratic gap; try not to fall in. (One you sartre, it's hard to stop. :D ) Is it inconceivable for a smoker to say, "I know I should quit, but I'm gonna light up anyway"? Sure, you can say "the smoker wasn't sincere when deciding that smoking was wrong," but perhaps the smoker had simply underestimated the temptation they would face. And in that case, we wouldn't allow someone to say "I shouldn't murder hookers" unless they're actually in a situation where there would be a temptation to murder hookers.

It strikes me that it's perfectly possible to break one's own ethics, since ethics only pertaining to the present is weak, and expecting people to follow ethics at all times is unreasonable.

Micawber: As much as Aran's problem seems unconvincing to me, it also seems strange that anyone would conceivably commit themselves to ethics that they don't want to commit themselves to at the moment of committal. That being said, "picking whatever the hell you want then doing it and declaring yourself ethical" is how a lot of people think about ethics. I'm not convinced that it's wrong, either. If you want to take up that position, go ahead.

Student of Trinity: I won't assume that you're defending Jesus, although your screen name suggests this much. I'd simply point out that I don't see how I shouldn't judge other people just because it opens me up to being judged. Further, I don't see how the golden rule of Jesus isn't social: I might want someone to help me when I'm in trouble; the golden rule seems to bind others to helping me just as much as the CI.

I'm also not sure that Jesus was much of a quietist. The Bible indisputably advocates conversion and building the kingdom of heaven, which would look a great deal like the kingdom of ends. Accepting suffering seems like a very hard mean to employ in order to achieve the peace Jesus allegedly wanted. And if "heaven" isn't a bigger picture, I have no idea what ever could be.

Rowen: Authority doesn't have to be limited to people. A rule can hold authority, but it certainly cannot hold honor. Also, it's not unthinkable to imagine someone with no honor but a great deal of authority. Coercion results in a lot of authority, even if that authority is very bad. Although like I said to Micawber, it's strange to think of ethical authority as being coercive. (Not even Kantians would maintain that position nowadays.)
Posts: 134 | Registered: Sunday, February 3 2008 08:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #15
I'm a Christian, but just because of that, I figure Jesus can look out for himself if he wants. I try not to defend him any more than anyone else.

Most moral rules would involve everybody if everybody obeyed them. The categorical imperative forces you to think about everybody, though, just in order to obey it yourself. The Golden Rule doesn't.

I'm not really sure why one shouldn't judge others; I'm just saying that that was what Jesus said. 'Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what measure ye mete, it will be meted unto you.' (I'm sorry for the King James English, but it's the version that sticks in my head, more or less.) As far as I can tell, what he meant was that if we refrain from judging other people, God will go easy on us; but if we presume to lay down the law to others, God will hold us to the same standard. Jesus doesn't seem to have explained this policy, but he emphasized it quite a bit.

You are of course right that Jesus and his followers have certainly pursued big long-term goals. But what I said is also true, that he discouraged big-picture thinking, at least of a certain kind. How to reconcile these two things is one of the main things I think I'm missing. Without rambling too much, one guess I have is that he considered it a duty to pursue big or long term goals if they were imposed on you by God, but felt that if you weren't aware of having been assigned any such mission, then you shouldn't try to invent one for yourself.

--------------------
Listen carefully because some of your options may have changed.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
Profile Homepage #16
quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:

'Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what measure ye mete, it will be meted unto you.' (I'm sorry for the King James English, but it's the version that sticks in my head, more or less.)
As is my annoying habit, I just looked this up in Greek, and this would be my translation: "Do not judge, in order that you not be judged; because with the judgment you judge, you will be judged." Because of the way the Greek works, this happens in (arguably) eleven words, five of which are the same word for "judging." It's really pounding the word, which also has the resonances of accusing and bringing to trial, and of condemning.

This has nothing to do with anything, but I found it interesting.

--------------------
Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
BANNED
Member # 13806
Profile #17
Let us say I am a sadist who cannot feel pain and am considering hurting you in a non-injurious way. (I cannot injure myself, since I wouldn't actually feel any pain and I would know it, so I wouldn't be able to please myself as a sadist in this way. That is, I have an outstanding desire to hurt specifically other people. :cool: ) Let us also assume that this doesn't arise out of any debilitating mental illness, and I am rational despite this quirk. By what means does the GR prevent me from doing so? If someone else were to hurt me, I would not feel it so it would be irrelevant to me. Is the GR really weak enough to allow me to hurt this other person?

And if it isn't that weak, then by what means? Is it asking something more along the lines of, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you if your identities were swapped"? In that case, I'm forbidden from hurting you, but now I'm also forbidden from doing anything that anyone wouldn't like. For instance, what if I encountered two people, each of whom asks me to punch the other, and neither of whom likes being punched. Under this reading of the GR, I would be forced to obey both and neither of their commands at the same time, so the GR cannot possibly mean this either.

So now we're left with a GR whose circumstances and standards cannot be particular to those of any individual. This only brings us so far as the contradiction in the will in the CI; we're still missing the contradiction in the inception, though, and I don't think we're going to get it. Still, that doesn't make the GR any less social than the CI; you're still thinking about everyone under both, but the CI has you think about everyone in two different ways.

Edited: A kind thanks to Mr. Kelandon! I guess that clears up the judgment issue.

As for the bigger picture: For someone who's arguing for chilling out, you're sure quick to resort to vocations there. ;) It's probably a lot simpler. God stewards the world, God is good, so trusting in His will and just going with the flow will result in good stuff happening. Not that going with the flow requires inaction: The flow may move you to help others. You simply shouldn't doubt it in either case. Now put your books and essays down and stop thinking so freaking hard about theology! The more seriously people take God, the sooner they turn into atheists. (And after that, your options are limited to nihilist libertarianism and millenarian Marxism.) Religion was never designed to withstand careful scrutiny, it was just designed to make you feel cuddly inside. When the faithful begin to question whether or not their imaginary friends are real, it leaves me bizarrely perplexed: We truly don't live in a world committed to truth enough for truth to matter. If you want to know if your imaginary friend is real, try cuddling it more. :)

[ Saturday, February 09, 2008 18:39: Message edited by: Diprosopus ]
Posts: 134 | Registered: Sunday, February 3 2008 08:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #18
I don't quite follow the logic of this hypothetical nerveless sadist situation. He can't be hurt, so he can hurt other people? But the GR does not say 'it's okay to do unto others anything they cannot do unto you'. It's about what you would like them to do to you, whether or not they actually can do it.

So you could invent a different scenario, with a masochist. Then to me the point would be that the masochist ought to figure out that getting hurt isn't actually the same thing for others as it is for him.

The New Testament does not record any comments by Jesus to or about nerveless sadists. (The closest thing, perhaps, is his prayer on behalf of the probably desensitized soldiers who were crucifying him: forgive them, for they know not what they do.) It's not at all clear that Jesus intended those words of his that were passed down to apply, unmodified or without reinterpretation, in all conceivable contexts. He liked parables more than abstract formulations, he took for granted a lot of contemporary Jewish thought as context, and he emphasized that the real meaning of words would show up only in action. He doesn't seem to me to have had much faith in universal formulas in general: he clearly believed in words, but I think his style shows that he recognized that they need context and they need content, neither of which they can supply for themselves.

--------------------
Listen carefully because some of your options may have changed.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
BANNED
Member # 13806
Profile #19
You misunderstand. I'm saying that the GR is a crappy formulation that's best understood as part of the CI-- namely, contradiction in the will.

Anyway, the golden rule is such a blithely ineffective moral code that it's no longer worth discussing, and religion is a total non-starter for any discussion about ethics, so this tangent is over.
Posts: 134 | Registered: Sunday, February 3 2008 08:00
By Committee
Member # 4233
Profile #20
quote:
Originally written by Diprosopus:

Anyway, the golden rule is such a blithely ineffective moral code that it's no longer worth discussing, and religion is a total non-starter for any discussion about ethics, so this tangent is over.
Is it? It's what informs the basis for natural liberty, rights, and law, which is at the core of social contract theory. If you're looking for the extent to which "ethics" extend or should extend, this is where you start looking. Basic Hobbes v. Locke stuff. I find Hobbes more convincing, but it isn't really otherwise all that relevant in a well-established society.
Posts: 2242 | Registered: Saturday, April 10 2004 07:00
BANNED
Member # 13806
Profile #21
Even if the GR is at the historical roots of those ideas, it's such a vague and poorly formulated rule that it probably shouldn't be our justification for any law, custom, etc.
Posts: 134 | Registered: Sunday, February 3 2008 08:00
Councilor
Member # 6600
Profile Homepage #22
No set opinions on the matter, eh?

Dikiyoba.

--------------------
Episode 4: Spiderweb Reloaded
Posts: 4346 | Registered: Friday, December 23 2005 08:00
By Committee
Member # 4233
Profile #23
quote:
Originally written by Diprosopus:

Even if the GR is at the historical roots of those ideas, it's such a vague and poorly formulated rule that it probably shouldn't be our justification for any law, custom, etc.
What is a better basis? Being able to do what you want so long as you don't interfere detrimentally with what other people want to do seems a good way to maximize personal liberty and minimize risk of injury, at least in the abstract.
Posts: 2242 | Registered: Saturday, April 10 2004 07:00
...b10010b...
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #24
quote:
Originally written by Drew:

Being able to do what you want so long as you don't interfere detrimentally with what other people want to do seems a good way to maximize personal liberty and minimize risk of injury, at least in the abstract.
The problem is that just about anything you might decide to do could turn out to interfere detrimentally with something that someone else might want to do in the future. If you never do unto others anything that you would not have them do unto you, you'll never be able to do unto others at all.

--------------------
The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00

Pages