ETHICS DEFINED: UNIVERSAL MORAL PRINCIPLE
UNIVERSAL Any time, anywhere
MORAL Pertaining to Rules of Right Conduct
PRINCIPLE A Fundamental Truth
Being Ethical: Doing the Right Thing, Anywhere, Every Time
Impossible? Not really, but certainly challenging. Unless you’re honest.
And what’s honesty? Simply – Applied Truth. Truth is the operative word. It’s all about truth.
Truth is the principal principle, an absolute. Everything (even a lie) starts in Truth.
Then why is there so much disagreement about truth, and about what’s ethical and what’s not?
Because nowadays “everybody’s entitled to his own opinion.” And besides, who decides what’s ‘right?’
Taking the last first: What’s right is what will work to the ultimate benefit of everyone, everywhere, at all times. It may take some thought…
And finally, ethics isn’t subject to opinion. It’s absolute; something either is ethical or it’s not.
And there you have it. Universal Moral Principle – doing the right thing, anywhere, every time.
But this sounds suspiciously like perfection, and isn’t it true that nobody’s perfect?
Yes, it is, but that doesn’t invalidate the goal. AIM HIGH! Make a difference!!
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ETHICS, PERFECTION and the UNPROVEN
The atheist claims that God does not exist because God can’t be proven. I posit that proof is not necessary. We accept certain truths to be self-evident—basic hypotheses that can’t be proven—as fact. Why not one more? All that’s required is to define what we mean by God.
Whatever God may be is not physical but supernatural— before nature; therefore it can’t be nature (or reality, as some would have it). Others equate it with consciousness, which takes the supernatural into consideration. While the concept seems valid, I prefer perfection. Simply stated, nobody (no body)’s perfect—admittedly oversimplified, but it makes the point that whatever it is, is superior to man and conceptual rather than physical.
That we live on Earth is fact, but that we are physically connected to it is assumed to be proven fact. It is not. I refer of course to gravity, which is only an idea and not proven. We know it by experience and can even measure it, but we do so in terms of Earth—not universally or beyond. That it exists universally is known, but what and why it is remains unproven. Yet we accept it unconditionally. This is known as an act of faith. We all have faith—it comes with our humanity.
If gravity’s not enough, consider electromagnetism (EM) and the electromagnetic spectrum. The EM field is made up of waves (not mass). Frequencies range from very long (the length of the Universe?) to very short (we don’t know that limit—it’s assumed to be infinitesimal). Actually, the longest wave might not be the size of the Universe at all—there may be longer waves for all we know. The point is that EM can’t be proven, although we can measure (parts of) it and our very being depends on it.
But EM represents conditions responsible for almost all phenomena encountered in daily life (including the obvious sight and hearing), with the exception of gravity(?).
Here we have two basic phenomena without which we couldn’t exist, yet they can’t be proven, but we (including the atheist) have faith in them, and we’re reasonably certain that something(?) existed prior to the Universe, call it what you will…
We know as well that the Higgs field (enabled by the Higgs boson) exists even though it can’t be quantified, and that when certain massless particles pass through it they gain the property of mass. Some thing from nothing? Sounds like creation to me… Modern (post-classical) physics supports this, as it does more than the four dimensions that we deal with daily.
Is God present as gravity? Or is the EM field a manifestation? Or the Higgs? Whatever the reason for the Universe, all of these powerful but invisible phenomena are part of it and have been since at least its beginning.
It’s true (and therefore ethical) that there is a power greater than man and the Universe itself; some call it God. I call it perfection. If the atheist can come up with another answer (other than ‘no’), I’ll listen.
Previous posts on this subject:
ETHICAL ISSUES: POLITICS & the PARETO PRINCIPLE
The field of ethics has changed remarkably over the years. In the 2000 years from Plato to The Enlightenment (was it really?), ethics (originally conceived as an antidote to politics) was correctly identified with virtue. It seems that Plato (and Aristotle) had issues with politicians even then. Things haven’t changed much in the ensuing years. To diverge, but not really…
The Pareto Principle, commonly known as the 80/20 rule, is an amazingly consistent ratio that holds true in most cases of all types (and this is not an exaggeration). For example: 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people; 80% of the money is owned by 20% of the people; 20% of one’s effort generates 80% of the results; 20% of the defects cause 80% of the problems (and 20% of the work causes 80% of the problems); etc. ad infinitum. Applied to politics, let’s say that 20% of politicians may be ethical while at least 80% are not. How else to explain the wealth of politicians whose salaries are not sufficient to generate that wealth? How else to explain why politicians exempt themselves in many cases from the rules they impose on the electorate?
After 2500 years politics is still in need of virtuous men. Since the 18th Century the ‘enlightened’ (are they really?) have slowly eroded the original idea of virtue to the point where tradition itself was thrown under the bus and the very idea of ethics became increasingly incoherent. Today, a ‘nice’ person with ‘good intentions’ may believe himself to be ethical. Know this: Making it easier to be ethical by changing the definition of ethics is fraudulent and unethical in itself.
Since Socrates, truth remains the root of ethics. ‘Good intentions’ do not necessarily lead to ethical decisions. Ethics is not about feeling or even doing, it is about being, about character. Ignoring the concept of virtue does not make it go away; the fact that it may be out of fashion does not negate it. Virtue remains a function of ethics; forming character its goal.
But the virtuous politician is an endangered species. In fact, subterfuge is built into the very definition of politics: “…the art of political government; political methods and maneuvers; use of intrigue or strategy in obtaining any position of power or control;” and playing politics: “to take advantage…to exploit…to deal with people in an opportunistic or devious way…” etc.
Is it any wonder we have the situation we have today? Read the news and see that the politician with the biggest war chest is almost guaranteed to win. What has this to do with character? Virtue? Trustworthiness? We have an attorney general reprimanded by Congress (News flash: Pot Calls Kettle Black!) for stonewalling its investigation of government-sponsored activities, and being supported in his efforts by the President himself. There are innumerable other examples of ethical lapses(?) in government, but all three branches are rife with current examples beside the ones just described. It may be noted that all three branches are largely populated by lawyers…
Governmental ethics is a contradiction in terms, legal ethics an oxymoron, business ethics a joke and environmental ethics a laughingstock. Virtue—propriety, prudence (what’s that?), temperance (and that?), courage, honesty—is largely absent from politics (and bureaucratic life in general). What’s to be done?
Truth and honesty, that’s what. And it starts with you, the individual. Be honest and demand honesty. Anybody can do it, but anybody must have the courage to do so (in other words, be ethical himself). Too much effort? Well, you see the results of that attitude—”All that’s required is for good men to do nothing.”
ExtremeEthics is bucking the tide, but it’s a worthy cause. How about coming on board? The Pareto Principle holds here as well—the honest 20% of us can dominate 80% of whatever it is we choose to dominate. If 20% of politicians were honest and did their job, we wouldn’t have these problems. That means that there aren’t even 20% of politicians who can be relied on! Twenty percent is all we need, and that’s within our reach if we decide to insist on it.
Start With Truth. EXTREMEEthics is committed to it. You should be, too.
PC: A Progressive Pathology
PC didn’t just happen…IT’S GOING ACCORDING TO PLAN.
Political Correctness (PC) seemed to be merely an annoyance to those of us comfortable with the truth; we assumed that honesty would eventually prevail over its obvious fiction. Well, we were wrong. We failed to appreciate the virulence and potential impact of the Progressive movement—only 15% of the population. The ‘right’ to not be offended has become their trump card. PC has become the new norm, and we hardly notice it…
THE ORIGINS OF PC
PC may have been an issue in China 2500-years ago. Confucius observed that the first thing to do to restore a state to health was to call things by their right names rather than use understatement to distort the truth…
…but the foundations of modern Political Correctness are found in Critical Theory, an early-1900s product of Germany’s Institute for Social Research (The Frankfurt School). Based on Marxist conjecture and underlying thesis that “all history is about which groups have power over which other groups,” its goal was to combine social theory, philosophy, economics and cultural criticism to delegitimize reason in favor of emotion and eliminate the distinction between the individual and the group. It was a deliberate attempt to promote and spread Communism, nothing less.
The Frankfurt School endeavored to bring about the self-destruction of Western Civilization by manipulating speech and thought patterns (changing language) through instilling feelings of guilt and spreading the idea that certain of its beliefs are disrespectful of others and therefore not to be tolerated.
The movement came to the US via New York in 1920 and California in 1930, firmly ensconcing itself at the University of Wisconsin along the way. Eventually critical theory abandoned its German idealistic roots and morphed into American pragmatism and, finally, progressivism and Political Correctness. www.extremeethics.org/?p=216
The Frankfurt School succeeded. Our freedoms have been compromised as planned. Read on.
THE PROFANITY OF PC: WORDS MATTER
The curse of PC is founded in words, in keeping with the original strategy of the Frankfurt School— manipulating speech. Correctly descriptive words are replaced by more innocuous ones to obscure the truth. A few random examples: Disabled is replaced by physically impaired; Blacks by African Americans, terrorists by militants; terrorism by workplace violence; mentally ill by intellectually impaired; government spending by investment; illegals by undocumented immigrants; Christmas tree by holiday tree, etc. ad absurdum. Seems relatively harmless, right? Don’t offend others (especially those with agendas). Nobody really wants to, but just remember: Truth Has No Agenda.
Since we’re dealing with deceits, we also ought to take the time to define fact, since what we’re dealing with here is truth. www.extremeethics.org/?p=1285 “Everything is what it is, and not another thing” said Bishop William Butler in the 18th Century; this in fact describes the essence of truth. Truth is what is—fact, certainty, reality, actuality, perfection—simply ‘what it is, and not another thing,’—a first principle having no discernable origin. Truth is where everything begins—even lies. An origin can’t be perfectly defined because we must use words, artifacts that require truth to even be. http://www.extremeethics.org/?p=974
We devise words to try to describe what is as best we can, but our definitions—artifacts of man—necessarily use those same words so are by nature imperfect. A few thoughts on words: 1) we take them at face value; 2) we take them for granted; and 3) they are only approximations for our best guess at reality. Their significance is not so much the words themselves, but what they mean, and we have to use them as best we can to achieve this. Using them otherwise is playing games with truth, unethical on its face.
Issues identified with Political Correctness have expanded from the holy trinity of race, class and gender to include such things as terrorism, global warming, income equality and a host of others (some examples of which follow). But the original is race as embodied in…
Affirmative action is the politically-correct term for social engineering (itself a euphemism for positive discrimination) contrived to promote special opportunities for particular minority groups to achieve equality in areas from which they may have been historically excluded—employment, education, culture and, more recently, financial compensation. The justification for affirmative action is that the WMRC (White Male Ruling Class) must compensate for past deliberate discrimination by ensuring that prescribed minority groups—special cases—are included “in all programs”. (Other subjects such as gender, abortion, gay marriage and other matters of applied emotion—feelings—are similar in character.)
Affirmative action doesn’t stop short of changing the Constitution (or the dictionary) by rewriting history—changing the meaning of words (e.g., marriage) to suit some minority.
Nor is it enough to achieve equality—preferential (affirmative) treatment is demanded.
Racism (the raison d’être of affirmative action) is the politically correct term for discrimination. Charges of discrimination began with race and its definition has expanded exponentially to become a catch-all used when nothing else seems to gain traction. www.extremeethics.org/?p=159
Racism holds that members of races other than white should be treated preferentially. By (politically-correct) definition only whites can be racist. The idea of liberal blacks vilifying conservative blacks cannot be racist according to the politically correct. (It’s instructive that the entire race of Orientals is notably absent from both sides of the equation.) It’s black vs. white—us vs. them.www.extremeethics.org/?p=988
The phenomenon of racism has expanded to border security and immigration issues and sentencing and incarceration of criminals. Recent studies by the University of Minnesota(!) have concluded that air pollution is racist. Wherever there is an instance of ‘applied emotion’ (gay marriage, abortion, etc.—where ‘feelings’ trump rationality), ‘racism’ will likely be found.
Other applications of PC include terrorism, ‘global warming’ and more:
‘Militants’ have been attacking American soil for years. The aggression began well before September 11, 2001; more recently our embassy in Benghazi was attacked by terrorists—four Americans including our Ambassador were killed. This is, by any standard, warfare, but President Obama has taken the PC line with “…America is not – and never will be – at war with Islam.” And “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance…Throughout history, Islam has demonstrated…religious tolerance and racial equality.” Lies? Read the Quran and decide for yourself. And decide if Major Nidal Hasan’s murdering of 13 unarmed persons at Ft Hood in the name of Allah is ‘workplace violence’ (as it is officially labeled).
‘Global warming’ is a politically-correct term for the perfectly natural occurrence of climate change: www.extremeethics.org/?p=1294 The issue is split down party lines—it’s political, not scientific—Progressives employing biased (and bogus) data, ignoring facts as necessary to panic the proletariat into buying into their power- and money-grabbing agenda.
And there’s more. Political Correctness is part of an effort to delegitimize reason in favor of emotion. Why? Because reason, and the intellectual rigor (truth) that undergirds it, represents the ultimate stumbling block for those with totalitarian impulses. And their efforts stand a good chance of succeeding with the indoctrination (in both public school and college) of younger Americans by the Progressive academics who dominate our educational system. www.extremeethics.org/?p=1510
The ephemeral WMRC has been replaced by a small minority of strident Progressives demanding their way and getting it. Saying the “wrong thing” in America today can get one fired. Wearing a religious token can get one removed from the classroom. The words ‘Choose Life’ on a state license plate can be ruled ‘unconstitutional’ and ordered removed. www.extremeethics.org/?p=913
We have a problem. Our freedom of speech is at stake. We need ethics; we need honesty. Showing PC for the lie it is will go a long way toward the solution. Any suggestions?
ETHICS: YES, WE REALLY DO
Ethics is about what’s right, good and true, and being ethical is all about ‘doing the right thing.’ Well, what is ‘right’? What’s right for some may not be right for others? What’s right in one situation may not be right in another? What’s right at one particular time may not be right at another?
The same goes for good. Being ethical is also about doing good. Well, what’s ‘good’? What’s good for one may not be good for another, etcetera, etcetera.
But there’s hope. What’s ethical must perforce be true, and here we have an anchor, for truth is not relative. Truth is an—the—overarching principle, the first of first principles in fact, and as such is inviolate—absolute. Truth can’t even be tied down to a simple definition using words, which must themselves be based in truth. It’s so basic that it must be understood, unfailing no matter the time or place. Something either is true or it is not. Truth compromised is meaningless. This must be implicit and accepted or there is no basis for essentials such as facts, knowledge or understanding, all anchored in truth. We have to start somewhere, and truth is that place, from the beginning, regardless of the time or circumstance.
So how do we know we are ‘doing the right thing’? Well, if we base our decisions in truth and handle them honestly, we are well on our way. Decisions founded in truth (rather than bias or prejudice) will also be right and good in the larger context. Even if not perfect they will be right and good in terms of humanity generally (in other words, moral), and we are beholden first to the humanity to which we all belong.
Doubts? Well, consider the alternative. Try basing your decision in a lie, and see what happens…
Speaking of which, whom do you trust? Here’s hoping that you trust those with whom you’re in close personal contact. Don’t you do business with people you trust? And if not your friends, who can you trust? Isn’t trust one reason they’re your friends in the first place? And how about yourself? Do you mean what you say? Say what you mean? Can your friends trust you? It’s worth thinking about.
The fact is that we’ve become comfortable with denying the very idea of truth. We studiously avoid the use of the word lie, replacing it with any number of excuses to cover up the general lack of honesty in our society. We embrace political correctness (PC), finding other words to avoid making someone uncomfortable by stating the facts as they are.
Our problems won’t be solved until they are faced squarely, and until anything less than the truth is not tolerated. Lying cannot be tolerated.
The linchpin of ethics is absolute. If something isn’t true, it is false and, needless to say, unethical. The ethical person is nothing if not truthful and trustworthy. Be ethical.
The first thing to do is to be honest with yourself. It starts on the individual level, and that’s you. Then insist on the truth from others. Don’t settle for less.
Truth, the first of First Principles, is integral to the natural law to which we and all other laws are subject, and the basis of ethics. Truth is square one. Without truth nothing that follows, including our civilization itself, has a sound basis.
The author George Orwell put it this way: “In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.” Revolute. It’s the thing to do, and high time to do it.
And when is that? NOW. That’s the only time that matters. THEN was. WHEN is yet to come. There is only NOW. How do you go on an effective diet? How do you stop smoking or drinking? In short, YOU DO IT AND IT’S DONE. Tom Peters (One-Minute Excellence) agrees. You can achieve your goals in a nanosecond. Just DO it. Never look back.
Anything less says that you’re satisfied with the status quo. If you are, stop complaining and live with the lies. If not, DO something about it. You can, and you matter. It’s up to you.
Yes. We really need ethics. Truth is what to do. So do it.