Ethics in a nutshell

Should you think about your duty, or about the consequences of your actions? Or should you concentrate on becoming a good person?

Moderators: AMod, iMod

prof
Posts: 968
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:57 am

Ethics in a nutshell

Post by prof » Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:11 pm

Ethics deals with what is good for a human person and what is good in a person.

Hence it would be advisable to understand the good in order to explain ethics. Fortunately, the Axiom of Value helps us to do that.

THE GOOD

What is the Axiom? It says “a good x” will mean the following:
(1) x is a member of the class-concept C;
(2) Cs have attributes a, b, c, d, etc.;
(3) x has a, x has b, x has c, x has d, etc.
(If x has only the properties a, b, and c then it is valuable, but not fully good. Good is a complete match between the meaning of the concept under which x falls and the actual features, qualities of x.)


What does all that logic jargon mean, in plain English? It says that as the actual approaches the ideal, we tend to say about it that it is becoming valuable, or that “it has value!” and the closer it gets to our picture of the ideal, the more valuable it is becoming …until finally, it is a close match. Then we will call the situation: “Good.” So when an actual something (or someone) lives up to its ideal (its full meaning) we tend to describe it as a good one. [The Systemic theoretical level is not to be confused with the Intrinsic living process of evaluation (prizing, ranking, preferring.) Let's be aware that theory and practice are two different things.]

Let us define a “saint” as “a genius at goodness.” [We could take, as an illustration, Francis of Assisi, or – as a non-Catholic example, take the Dalai Lama.] The closer any human gets to being a saint, the more we find such a person attractive: we want to be around an individual who would – figuratively speaking – give us “the shirt off his back.” We tend to like those who love us unconditionally …or at least give us profound respect, just the way we are at the moment. They treat us as though we were magnificent.

For – according to the latest research in the theory of needs – we all crave recognition; it is one of the basic needs. If kids can’t get attention by being good, they often get it by being a little mischievous. If that doesn’t work, they become delinquents or deviants. It happens. Let’s now discuss: What is ethics?

ETHICS

It is a perspective on individuals – on conscious humans – that differs from the anatomical-physiological perspective, and from the psycho-social perspective. The anatomical view deals with systems of the body. The psychological view deals with behavior, goal-seeking, functions such as memory, belief, perception, attitude, motivation, etc. The sociological point of view deals with groupings, status, rank, mores, organization, social integration, social conflict, interaction, cohorts, etc.

The ethical perspective sees each individual as uncountably precious, or to state it more exactly, as of indefinitely-high value. All else in ethics follows from that! If you reflect upon it you will realize that this is so.

For how would you treat – or interact with – an individual you regarded as that valuable? Wouldn’t you at least exhibit a modicum of respect? Or if you couldn’t bring yourself to give the party respect, wouldn’t you – out of self-respect – at least be courteous? Even for the “worst slob” or “monster” wouldn’t you hold the door open so that they could go out first? This is a gesture that shows that you are not selfish; and selfishness is the very opposite of ethical conduct.

SELFISHNESS

What is “selfishness”? It is a “me first” attitude. We see it when someone goes to the front of the line, pushes himself ahead of you to check out with the cashier… assuming there is no emergency or some other mitigating factor. The selfish person slices the pie, takes out the biggest slice for him/herself, and leaves the remains for the others.

Another condition, that varies inversely with morality, is hypocrisy. {Maybe - as Johnathan Haidt, a Moral Psychologist, has observed – we are “all hypocrites.”} This means we do not “practice what we preach.” In other words, our conduct diverges from our professed (or believed) ideals more than 40% of the time. I mentioned the concept “morality.” What do I mean by that?

MORALITY

Let us define “morality” as: “self being true to Self.” The first usage of ‘self’ alludes to outward bodily conduct, observable behavior; the second use of ‘Self’ refers to one’s belief system, one’s value-structure, one’s self-identity, one’s self-image. The Self is a part of the self-concept, X, where X is one’s proper name.

The self-concept has the same three components as any concept has, namely, a name (label, designator), a meaning, and an application. The meaning (logically) is a set of predicates. Let’s call them “the attributes” of the concept in question. Attributes are property-names. The application of any concept consists of the examples, cases, instances of the concept. Let us speak of them as “the referents.” They are members of the class of application.

In the case of an individual human, s/he has a proper name, a Self, and a self. If the self (one’s conduct) approximates (more and more closely until it is almost a match) one’s Self (one’s self-ideals for what a human being ought at best to be) then one is becoming moral. And the better the match, the more moral one is. Morality, moral value, like any value, is a matter of degree. As self is true to Self, as self more closely approximates Self, one is achieving a higher degree of morality. This is theory. How about practice? How does that work?

Here is where commitment and devotion comes in. [To put it into technical language, here is where a material norm becomes an obligatory norm.] If one learns that a decent human being, having self-respect, acts in such-and-such a way, has a certain kind of character, and one says to oneself, “I want to be like that. …and I want it with my head, heart and soul :!: ” Then one becomes devoted to that kind of noble character, makes a habit of it, and lives it in his/her daily life. Then the theoretical Good has become the living Good.

The ethical job isn’t finished until one lives goodness in one’s daily life – until one wants to be moral, wants to be a good person, intensely, with great devotion, with heartfelt commitment!

Then one has become ethically educated. One has enlightened self-interest: s/he knows that “If you win, truly win, than I win too.” “I won’t achieve a quality life, one of maximum value, until you, and everyone of us, achieves it too.” “I can’t really advance unless I help you advance also.” This is ethical enlightenment.


To get a fuller picture, and for more detail, see
The Beautiful Simplicity of Ethical Concepts
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=9512
What Is Ethics?
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=9409
The Natural-Logical Law of Conduct
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=9461
and, of course, see
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=10117
Then if you still have questions, read the papers linked to the end of "The Beautiful Simplicity..."

prof
Posts: 968
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:57 am

Re: Ethics in a nutshell

Post by prof » Sun Mar 10, 2013 2:34 am

I'd really like to know your impressions of this 'new' paradigm for ethics. It could be argued that there is nothing new under the Sun, so I do not care to discuss how 'new' it is. I do think, because it contains variables, it can apply to a wide range of ethical data.

The theory is in its incipient beginnings, and it has a long way to go to cover the vast field of ethics - not that it ever could. I would rather have a theory be incomplete than be incoherent. This theory is striving for coherence.

Comments? [Keep them constructive - in contrast with destructive - PLEASE.

User avatar
Bill Wiltrack
Posts: 5470
Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2007 1:52 pm
Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Contact:

Re: Ethics in a nutshell

Post by Bill Wiltrack » Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:25 am

.









...............................................................................Image










.

User avatar
The Voice of Time
Posts: 2233
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:18 pm
Location: Trondheim

Re: Ethics in a nutshell

Post by The Voice of Time » Sun Mar 10, 2013 9:12 am

prof wrote:[Keep them constructive - in contrast with destructive - PLEASE.
Talk about being afraid of counter-arguments. You want everybody to bless you with praise instead? Are you interested in discussion at all?

Impenitent
Posts: 1841
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:04 pm

Re: Ethics in a nutshell

Post by Impenitent » Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:13 pm

progressives (as well as every creator of utopia) never are

-Imp

User avatar
The Voice of Time
Posts: 2233
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:18 pm
Location: Trondheim

Re: Ethics in a nutshell

Post by The Voice of Time » Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:15 pm

Impenitent wrote:progressives (as well as every creator of utopia) never are

-Imp
Entirely false. But good point nevertheless.

User avatar
Bill Wiltrack
Posts: 5470
Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2007 1:52 pm
Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Contact:

Re: Ethics in a nutshell

Post by Bill Wiltrack » Sun Mar 10, 2013 10:30 pm

.















...............................................................
Image








....................................................................................
Image









..................................................................................................
Image












...................................................................
Image










.

prof
Posts: 968
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:57 am

Re: Ethics in a nutshell

Post by prof » Mon Mar 11, 2013 6:49 am

Greetings, Bill

Thanks for lightening up a heavy topic! Your positive contributions are much appreciated.

Keep up the good work !

If someone - anyone - gets a smile ...you have added value. And that's what ethics is about.

You are one of the most ethical guys I have encountered.

User avatar
The Voice of Time
Posts: 2233
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:18 pm
Location: Trondheim

Re: Ethics in a nutshell

Post by The Voice of Time » Mon Mar 11, 2013 8:16 am

prof wrote:If someone - anyone - gets a smile ...you have added value. And that's what ethics is about.

You are one of the most ethical guys I have encountered.
Is this true for anyone? There are mad people who convince fellow humans to look away from bad things by pulling jokes on it and making them smile or laugh, possibly shrill laughter. Is it still adding value? Or supporting the preservation of bad men or women in power?

Even Hitler made jokes, I know, there's a movie on YouTube about Hitler making a joke from recordings taken of him in the German parliament. Interestingly his joke is about how the US president is completely off track with warning him about not attacking a list of countries in Europe, when, even more interestingly: he ended up attacking several of those countries... seems the joke was just a way of making people adhere to him and like him.

prof
Posts: 968
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:57 am

Re: Ethics in a nutshell

Post by prof » Mon Mar 11, 2013 7:27 pm

Hi, Voice

I knew I could count on you to find a counter-example.

Is it valuable to go to the deviant exception every time someone brings up a generally-true remark?? When I did that people around me considered me to be obnoxious. So I stopped acting that way.

It seems the object of such activity - is to find a generalization that covers absolutely all cases. I doubt that is possible. [There are less-charitable inferences about the character of those who do that, but I don't want to go there.]

I know that in Philosophy circles the cliche is that "each exception tests the rule." However, I was not making a rule. Causing laughter, or evoking a smile, is only an example of a way that might add value to life. If a reader does not care for that particular example, they could suggest a different illustration to make the same point - namely, that there are many possible ways to add value - both at the workplace, in business, or in daily life.

Creating value is the special and unique gift of intelligent forms of life. When it happens, the universe becomes more valuable. When it is done right, here on Earth, all of us benefit. To contribute toward the quality of life of another is to enhance your own quality of life. I don't recommend martyrdom nor self-sacrifice.

I do appreciate that we are all made of the same substances, the same basic elements - hence we are all more alike than we are different: "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust" is very true.

Yes, there are men and women who do bad things; their socialization was a failure. Due to a genetic fault or to poor upbringing - or both - they come to believe that violence is acceptable, that manipulation of others toward their own ends is okay, and/or that they are superior to the next person. You are no better than me and I am no better than you ... morally speaking... but I can strive to be better than I was previously.

I believe that generalization would follow from the Ethical perspective ... unless one can show how higher infinities than aleph-one apply to the model (thus explaining higher levels of spiritual development.) This would entail an acceptance of The Continuum Hypothesis; but then, one has every right to do so. ...to take that as an assumption. Perhaps you could be the one to make this breakthrough !

User avatar
The Voice of Time
Posts: 2233
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:18 pm
Location: Trondheim

Re: Ethics in a nutshell

Post by The Voice of Time » Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:57 am

prof wrote:Hi, Voice

I knew I could count on you to find a counter-example.

Is it valuable to go to the deviant exception every time someone brings up a generally-true remark??
Oh god yes! Inquiry is my motto.

User avatar
The Voice of Time
Posts: 2233
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:18 pm
Location: Trondheim

Re: Ethics in a nutshell

Post by The Voice of Time » Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:21 am

prof wrote:Creating value is the special and unique gift of intelligent forms of life. When it happens, the universe becomes more valuable. When it is done right, here on Earth, all of us benefit. To contribute toward the quality of life of another is to enhance your own quality of life. I don't recommend martyrdom nor self-sacrifice.
Paragraphs like these have absolutely no meaning at all, because they do not speak of the real world, of real things. If you want to speak of real things, you have to speak of situations. The sentences of yours above tells me nothing about anything, though they could fool a religious man into obscure positive thinking I'm not a religious man, and mostly, I don't think the rest of the people here are either.

prof
Posts: 968
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:57 am

Re: Ethics in a nutshell

Post by prof » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:54 pm

Ethics (the discipline, the model-of-models) is a body of knowledge about how to choose.

In the essays to which links were offered, and in the earlier threads mentioned, I have presented you with a model, which could serve as a guide for making better ethical choices.

What I am aiming for is to improve the model I have offered which I believe is the best one (of which I am aware ...after 52 years of research on the topic.) If you know of a better one, a model that explains and accounts for the data better please let me know - and I will very likely jump over to that one.

If it is less comprehensive than the one I have, I would likely absorb it into the current synthesis somehow. I would adopt the best parts of it that seem fitting. Fittingness is one of my criteria as to what makes a good ethical system.

As to how to resolve an ethical dilemma, Rushworth Kidder definitely had ideas on that subject in his book HOW GOOD PEOPLE MAKE TOUGH CHOICES:Resolving the Dilemmas of Ethical Living (NY: Simon & Schuster Fireside BBooks, 1995). His book employs the value dimensions S, E, and I, without actually getting technical and mentioning them, but you will recognize their use as rather obvious.

When I request "constructive suggestions", I am attempting to avoid destructive comments which merely run a theory down without offering any better alternative. Who needs defamation, smearing, put-downs?!! Life is too short to waste time on chaos and confusion.

So, dear readers, if after you have done your homework you have any questions, or good ideas for upgrading, or a substitute ethical theory that you regard as superior, let us hear about it !!!! :!:

{I examined, and studied, the 'Ethics as Central Processing' concept, and I have good reason to believe it will - once it is put into effect, and its ongoing work is done - arrive at the same principles and conclusions as the theory described in the papers and essays downloadable via the links at the end of the first post above.}

prof
Posts: 968
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:57 am

Re: Ethics in a nutshell

Post by prof » Wed Mar 13, 2013 3:23 am

You may have seen some of this before, but this 12-point argument bears repeating....

Rushworth M. Kidder wrote “Protestors are occupying … and organizing around the world.
Congress’s ratings have tanked, and Eurozone govenments don’t fare much better. Meanwhile political outrage balloons, and dignified discourse fades.

Clearly the world needs help. But outrage … can’t provide answers. What’s behind these headlines is a collapse of integrity. And what’s needed is solution-oriented ethical thinking.”

““In order to increase both generality and accuracy, the complexity of our theories must necessarily be increased.” --------Warrem Thorngate.

When confronted with a dilemma people can view it at least three ways:

Systemically – What are the relevant rules, procedures, norms, methods, codes? What would the authorities say?

Extrinsically – What is the cost-benefit analysis and the pragmatic considerations?

Or Intrinsically - What best builds community? What would a compassionate, caring person of good character be likely to do?
“What’s right? What’s the most honest, responsible, respectful, fair and compassionate choice?”
--- The Institute for Global Ethics

The following discussion is, at first, more for philosophers, academics, and intellectuals than it is for the “man or woman in the street.” I am sacrificing simplicity for the sake of accuracy and generality.

Fortunately there is a concrete logical chain of thought that could break the judicial, economic, or political smoke-screens that criminals and opportunist hide behind. Here are 12 points to consider and reflect upon:

1) Every concept has a meaning and an application.

2) A member of the class of application is a "referent,." or case, or example.

3) Referents possess properties. Meanings have "attributes" = property names. "Qualities" = attributes and properties.

4) The relation of matching between an attribute and a property is what we shall speak of as "value."

5) "Goodness" = full value. [Mathematicians call it a one-one-and-onto relationship, a bijection, or an isomorphism.] It is a complete match between something's attributes and its properties. The latter are perceived by the senses; the former are conceived in the mind. "Experience" integrates conceptions and perceptions into life lived. {This definition is not posited to cover evey usage of the word “good.” It does suggest that the adjective is a quantifier, analogous to the logical quantifier “all.” And value is analogous to “some.” Here the quantification is of attributes (predicates) or qualities, rather than of objects.}

6) The number of attributes and/or properties can range from zero to infinity. For no matter how many one may list when what is being valued is a person, or an involvement, one more property can always be added to the list.

7) By definition (and observation) Intrinsic Value ( IV ) has a dense continuum of properties; and we also stipulate that Extrinsic Value (EV) has a countable number of properties; and that Systemic Value (SV) has only a finite number. We can go in the direction of zero properties [which is indifference or apathy] or we can go toward IV which radiates and showers us with a limitless, high number of properties.
Example: Let's go into the realm of metaphor, which is the Intrinsic valuation of words. Say, you call your wife, or girlfriend, a "peach." This means everything in the universe except the literal peach: it means (or can mean) a multitude of qualities. An InV (or IV) is rich with properties.

8) To go toward In-V is to go toward life (a complex multitude of properties.) To go toward zero value is to go toward death (the absence of living properties.) If we love life and we want to live we add properties; if we shed properties, we aim for death. Each individual has this choice. He or she can aim for greater value, aim to enhance life, and the quality of life; or can fail to do so. At every moment, and in every situation we have this choice.

9) To increase value the secret is to In-Value the people around you, and to In-Value yourself; to show respect to others and to have self-respect. If you behave this way, and conduct yourself this way, beautiful things will happen in your life. If you regard everyone has having InV - limitless high value - you will want to enhance their lives, to boost them up, appreciate them, sincerely compliment them, express your gratitude that they are around and for how they express their inner artistry. If you InV yourself you will strive to possess a good character, with all that that implies.

You will certainly not want to do any harm to anyone.

10) Hence some of you will appreciate the moral power of active nonviolence: you will 'speak truth to power' by engaging in nonviolent resistance to any evil you encounter. You will seek out ways to negate and nullify the (incongruence of the) evil - thereby somehow making a good out of it.

Some of you will be inclined to fight for civil liberties for all. You will care about human rights, as listed in the Declaration of Human Rights.

11) You will fight personal corruption: not be so tempted by short-term satisfactions because you are vividly aware of long-term benefits to be gained in a life of joy, health and harmony. You will seek common-ground, something upon which people with opposing views can build. You will want things to be in balance: this is known as "justice."

12) You will want the world to work for everyone because you will realize that this is in your own best interest. When everyone has an opportunity to express their inner artistry you understand that there is what economists call 'a multiplier effect.' IV multiplies and thus you get even more benefits
.

Comments? Qestions? Improvements?

User avatar
The Voice of Time
Posts: 2233
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:18 pm
Location: Trondheim

Re: Ethics in a nutshell

Post by The Voice of Time » Wed Mar 13, 2013 8:52 am

prof wrote:
2) A member of the class of application is a "referent,." or case, or example.

Comments? Qestions? Improvements?
What is a "member of the class of application"? Classes and application doesn't make sense put together least you are talking about computer programming and reword it to "in an application", and why "the class" and not "a class"? What is "class of application"?

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests