Ethics at all?

What is right? Is there right? Are you right?

Ethics at all?

Post by Wootz on Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:26 pm
([msg=9992]see Ethics at all?[/msg])

What are ethics? For the longest time I've been trying to find a logical definition to right and wrong, but the only things that come close are favorable and productive, and the antithesis of either. I honestly don't think there is any right and wrong, just what people like and dislike. Take this site, for instance, with it's highly anarchistic political views. By reason, this would mean that people who follow this wish people to do what they feel. But that would mean that all the egotists, racists, sexists and all that fun crap could freely speak their minds and so forth. Now a lot of people disagree with these viewpoints and work to counteract a good portion of their efforts. But now as much as I don't like these people I don't think they're ethically skewed. In fact, I'm glad that they're there, because if everyone saw things the way I did there'd be no conflict at all and I'd be terribly bored. Maybe I'm too distracted to keep anything coherent at this point, but I hope you get the point. I mean, is there really right or wrong, or just differences?
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Re: Ethics at all?

Post by buckdich1 on Thu Aug 21, 2008 12:02 pm
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Good: Constructive
Bad: Destructive

Case closed.
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Re: Ethics at all?

Post by nosidius on Sat Aug 23, 2008 2:24 pm
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not that simple, because when you create something, you destroy the lack of it, and destroy what it previously was, so the definition is very circumstantial............. few things aren't (as a rule of thumb)

good= a non counter-productive action (can't say safe, as people risk their lives to do good)
bad= a counter productive action that harms others in some way
give me knowledge or give me death
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Re: Ethics at all?

Post by DDp on Mon Aug 25, 2008 2:30 pm
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I agree that there are certainly differing views on what is right and what is wrong. This is also known on a global scale as Cultural Relativism. Right and Wrong are relative to culture, time, geographic location, etc. This viewpoint belongs more to Anthropology than Philosophy. Cultural Relativism describes how things are. It is based on observation. From a philosophical perspective, describing what is morally right is about what "ought" to be, and not necessarily about what "is." If you want to discuss Ethics from a Philosophical perspective, there really is no need to look at what humans do, but rather at what they are capable of doing by relying purely on reason. So yes, there are ethics. Theoretical, like the Categorical Imperative, Utilitarianism, etc. (Of course, proponents of such theories would claim that they are perfectly applicable in the "real world"). You also have "Applied" Ethics. These are what people do. This is what most of us think of when we begin a discussion on ethics. And why not? It's the most practical. In this category, I would put Cultural Relativism, and Situational Ethics. In the middle of these two are where most of us are. We have several influences and experiences that form our own individual code of ethics, and we bend and shape them as we go along. But there is a stark difference between what "is" and what "ought" to be.
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Re: Ethics at all?

Post by Finarfin Palantir on Tue Sep 23, 2008 1:33 am
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Very very interesting topic...

I'll start off by saying, there won't ever be one answer to this which applies for everyone...

I'm going to explain this with an argument I picked up from a catholic priest a few years ago (And no I'm not catholic, I just think it's a really really good way to look at things)

The question in question being is it a sin to buy shoes?

The argument seems pretty absurd, who in their right mind would think it's a sin to buy a pair of shoes (assuming with buy I'm talking about a legal exchange of a currency for a pair of shoes from a respectable company) I agree, the argument seems absurd, however, take the exact same situation, but now (assuming the person buying the shoes is also catholic) if the forementioned person buys 500 pairs of shoes a day she would be a)very very rich to be able to legally buy 500 pairs of shoes and b) Commiting a sin by letting shoes interfere with the relationship she should have with her chosen god.

Now I agree the argument has quite a few flaws, point being, there is no dividing line, every situation has different requirements, a different set of variables that ultimately, leads to a decision.

To get this back to the topic at hand, the main reason we struggle to answer that question of whether there is a right and wrong, a good and bad (and once again this is a personal opinion feel free to disagree) is because we try to determine one set of rules to apply on everything (AND EVERYONE). Taking each situation with the various possible paths one can take, I'm really sure you'll be able to tell the good from the bad, the right from the wrong.

That's my view on it anyway, but I'd really like to hear what everyone else thinks, it might lead to a realy good and hopefully intelligent debate (without any "Shut up I hack you" :P )

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Re: Ethics at all?

Post by Wootz on Fri Oct 17, 2008 5:27 pm
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DDp wrote:I agree that there are certainly differing views on what is right and what is wrong. This is also known on a global scale as Cultural Relativism. Right and Wrong are relative to culture, time, geographic location, etc. This viewpoint belongs more to Anthropology than Philosophy. Cultural Relativism describes how things are. It is based on observation. From a philosophical perspective, describing what is morally right is about what "ought" to be, and not necessarily about what "is." If you want to discuss Ethics from a Philosophical perspective, there really is no need to look at what humans do, but rather at what they are capable of doing by relying purely on reason. So yes, there are ethics. Theoretical, like the Categorical Imperative, Utilitarianism, etc. (Of course, proponents of such theories would claim that they are perfectly applicable in the "real world"). You also have "Applied" Ethics. These are what people do. This is what most of us think of when we begin a discussion on ethics. And why not? It's the most practical. In this category, I would put Cultural Relativism, and Situational Ethics. In the middle of these two are where most of us are. We have several influences and experiences that form our own individual code of ethics, and we bend and shape them as we go along. But there is a stark difference between what "is" and what "ought" to be.

I like this analysis. You do a good job of putting things into perspective with reasonable terms. But my question is do you believe that ethics are moral guidelines that people should follow, or personal inhibitions?
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Re: Ethics at all?

Post by mrscratch on Thu Oct 30, 2008 12:36 pm
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This is a somewhat moderate argument but I believe that it holds true for all concepts, not just ethics. The fundamental reason that there are arguments at all rests on the notion that we are all, each one of us, alone in this world. We all can only see things from our own perspective. You can never see exactly what other people see. Language, written or spoken, only describes the view we see from inside our little houses, and no matter how hard you try you can never describe your view to someone else completely. They can only relate what you say to what they see, or not and believe that you are flawed in some way. We can all generally agree that this thing is wrong or this is right, but really it is just a coincidence that we agree at all. To beat a dead despot, Hitler did not believe that he was doing wrong. Slave owners back in the day did not believe that they were doing wrong. There is no real right or wrong action. Everything depends on the view from your house. For that matter, actions can not be judged as right or wrong, intentions are the only things that should be judged because there are no absolutes. Stealing to feed your child, killing to protect your home and family, these actions by themselves could be construed as wrong if the world were absolute. But the intentions behind the actions are what should be judged. Unfortunately, intention can only be seen by the individual. The rest of us have to infer the intention from what we can perceive, which will only be a vague description based on what we can see and what we can relate it to in our own minds. Ethics of the individual are true for the individual. Ethics of the many are true for the many. In a world with two realities (inside the mind and outside the mind) there can exist two truths.
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Re: Ethics at all?

Post by Finarfin Palantir on Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:22 am
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I like this analysis. You do a good job of putting things into perspective with reasonable terms. But my question is do you believe that ethics are moral guidelines that people should follow, or personal inhibitions?


I've never really considered this, as strange as that might sound. I mean I've always tried to uphold a certain lifestyle of what is, at least in my mind, a good set of moral values. But I have not the faintest idea whether this is actually because that set exists within me as a person or whether it exists in me simply because I was raised from a young age with those values and since I won't be raised again without them, I guess I'll never know? I mean personally I do think that they are moral guidelines set within each person, the same way I believe not every person's set of values are the same or neccesarily what others consider "good", as I'm sure in Hitler's mind he was performing a "good" act.

I don't think I have any logical or reasonable way of answering that question?
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Re: Ethics at all?

Post by Wootz on Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:19 pm
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Finarfin Palantir wrote:
I like this analysis. You do a good job of putting things into perspective with reasonable terms. But my question is do you believe that ethics are moral guidelines that people should follow, or personal inhibitions?


I've never really considered this, as strange as that might sound. I mean I've always tried to uphold a certain lifestyle of what is, at least in my mind, a good set of moral values. But I have not the faintest idea whether this is actually because that set exists within me as a person or whether it exists in me simply because I was raised from a young age with those values and since I won't be raised again without them, I guess I'll never know? I mean personally I do think that they are moral guidelines set within each person, the same way I believe not every person's set of values are the same or neccesarily what others consider "good", as I'm sure in Hitler's mind he was performing a "good" act.

I don't think I have any logical or reasonable way of answering that question?

I guess I could say the same. I've spent several hours a day for the past several months (I've isolated myself a lot) asking myself just that question. I can say it hasn't hurt as of yet, so I'm going to continue following my self imposed guidelines until I can honestly answer this question, if there even is an answer.
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Re: Ethics at all?

Post by Skittatles on Thu Jun 18, 2009 5:08 am
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I honestly, don't really believe in Ethics as a whole.

To truly understand Ethics, one would have to be either a) Omniscient, or b) A God (Who would probably be omniscient anyway). As humans, we can't really develop ethics, or 'right' and 'wrong', due to the fact that everybody has differing views, no matter how minor.

I live my life in a very simple, if selfish, manner. If I know, and I mean like, no way in hell I'm wrong know, that I wouldn't get caught stealing... then I'd do it. If I thought very strongly that there was no chance I'd get caught stealing, then I'd do it. If being altruistic and 'good' will benefit me, then I'll do it.

It's ego-centric and narcissistic, but it works. I don't go spouting racist, or sexist, or etc comments, because that would be detrimental.
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