ETHICS: A TALE OF TWO ETHICS

ETHICS ISSUES:  LIBERALISM, PROGRESSIVISM and The Rest

The study of ethics goes back at least to the birth of philosophy some 2500 years ago, with Socrates positing that ethical truth was not only rational but demonstrably absolute.  Plato expanded on this thought, and since then countless philosophers have put in their two cents worth with no visible damage to Socrates’s original conjecture.  Aristotle’s subsequent metaphysics defined ethics as “virtue as a means to happiness,” opening the door to scholastic conflict and beginning a long history of questioning just what is meant by happiness (and virtue, for that matter).  Truth, however, remains sacrosanct despite all assaults (and opinions).

forever

There’s nothing mysterious about it…

The rapid proliferation of newspapers, journals and literary salons in the 18th Century caused an explosion in mass communication that encouraged public venues where ideas, political and otherwise, could be discussed, developed and

THE BIG BANG: ETHICS and IRRATIONALITY

ETHICS, GOD, and THE BIG BANG

[This piece continues the theme of earlier blogs, as promised earlier.  Please refer to them as necessary.]

ethics

To preface what follows: It’s been my purpose for the past several years to try to justify the physical world with the metaphysical (science with the spiritual).  Science being a child of philosophy, the two approaches to truth historically were one.  I believe that they are on parallel tracks that will link again when we finally know the truth.  It’s my goal to meld the two approaches insofar as possible while realizing that full spiritual understanding is out of my range.  Metaphysics is yet (if ever) to be mastered, and I’m certainly not the one to master it.  I’m now putting my personal views and beliefs, for what they’re worth, on the line.  You may disagree.  I

ETHICS UNPLUGGED

ETHICAL ISSUES:  WHAT ETHICS IS ALL ABOUT

Unplugged, in its musical connotation, means unamplified—unembellished (acoustic) content.  In another sense it refers to removing obstruction(s): clearing the way to the goal (think plumber’s plunger).  Both apply here; simplicity is the watchword. Getting at ethics via philosophy can be daunting, so we’re going to bypass all that for now.  Ethics (with respect to its adjective ethical) can be reduced to a simple model that can be applied to everyday living in a very basic way.  Here it is—ethics for everyone, in five paragraphs.

HOW TO BE ETHICAL

You certainly can get by without walking the ethical line. Most people do in fact wander from it whenever it suits them. But Natural Law comes with our being, and we’re able to take advantage of (or ignore) it because it’s always there in spite of us. The truth is that we correctly assume that most people will behave predictably because of it, and most of us do, most of the time.  But it’s also true that some of us take advantage of those trusting souls who generally do follow it. We can use it to our advantage without subscribing to it, but is this right?  It certainly isn’t ethical. To be ethical, the Golden Rule really says it all if you would reflect on all that it implies.  Simply “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Or if that doesn’t resonate, try the Confucian “Do not do to another what you would not want him to do to you.” Or Kant’s more prolix Categorical Imperative: “Act only according to that maxim through which you can at the same time (resolve) that it should become a universal law.”  (More simply: what if your mother read about it in the newspaper…) But maybe you expect something more than (what really are not) platitudes, so let’s try another tack: Honestly acknowledge, affirm, accept and apply what is (fact, truth), and actively encourage the same in others.  This will work very well, by the way.  You can stop right here and have the gist of this article.  Or you may read on for more detail. It’s a fact that you can’t know something that isn’t true.  Knowledge requires truth—fact—which represents what is.  What isn’t counts for nothing.  To be ethical you have to first acknowledge and affirm the facts, accept them, and apply this knowledge, honestly; first to yourself, then to others, and do no harm while doing so.  Put in the form of simple exclusionary rules, try these: Do not violate trust (don’t lie, mislead, cheat or steal); and Do not cause harm (don’t murder, damage, impair or deprive). Stop me if I’m wrong, but we’re back to the Golden Rule and Confucius again.  Why make things complicated when they’re not? In the spirit of even greater simplicity, being ethical can be described in just one word: integrity.  Look it up and you will find that it means the quality of possessing and steadfastly adhering to high moral principles; the state of being sound, undamaged.  Synonyms include: honesty, truth, actuality, veracity, reliability, incorruptibility, soundness.  You get the idea… What comes next should fill in the gaps and demonstrate why being ethical is essential to the complete human being.

ETHICS ISSUES: TRUTH & FACTS (of LIFE)

ETHICS, TRUTH and NATURE

Ethics is all about truth, and the truth is: Nature Bats Last.  No matter what man does, nature has the last word.  Here’s another truism:

Nature Doesn’t Lie.  Nature is exactly what it is, no more, no less—the essence of truth. And truth is exactly what it is—no more, no less than perfection. We don’t define perfection because we can’t achieve it.  It remains beyond us.  Further, we have stipulated truth as being free of lies (i.e., untruths are not truth.  Duh…).

But that’s as far as we can go. Truth can’t be perfectly defined because truth is an a priori cause—a First Principle–that can’t be defined by its effect[s]i.e., truth is a givenEverything requires truth to even be (exist) in the first place.  (This means that truth must have preceded even the Universe, which couldn’t exist without it). www.extremeethics.org/?p=974

But the concept (of truth) has to be articulated to some degree so that we can deal with it—after all, that’s why man invented words.  The following definition (not original) is based on perfection (another First Principle):  a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle; being in conformity with reality, transcending even what may be perceived.  In other words, although something may be true, we may not comprehend it. This is important.  As an example:  consider the Universe.  It’s real, but we don’t fully comprehend it.  It’s literally beyond us.

ETHICS ISSUES: TRUST

TRUST and the ETHICAL NORM

Whom do you trust?  Your neighbor, your mechanic, your doctor, your attorney, your hairdresser?  Maybe government?  Politicians?  The media?  How about yourself?  Think about it.  And think about lying. Can you trust politicians who say one thing and do another (a government that lies)?  Or those who promise one thing yet do another—in other words, out-and-out lie to you?  Or media that slant their message in favor of their agenda, report only one side of the story, ignore important news that ought to be reported, and yes—outright lie both in print and to your face on television?  If you need examples of these (bipartisan) failings, you’re seriously out of touch—they happen every day, over and over again, in plain sight, and you know it. Lying is rampant to the point

ETHICS and MORALITY: PHILOSOPHY ONE

ETHICS and MORALITY

Ethics is one of several fields of philosophy, the thinking rationally and critically about fundamental questions.  A basic tool of philosophy is, famously, logic—the process of right reasoning.

Maybe the most basic philosophical question of all is: why is there anything?  This question is best answered by another: Who knows? which is enough to put philosophy on the shelf, a position often exacerbated by philosophers themselves—especially those with an agenda.  Philosophers love arguing with other philosophers, scaring off others who might make sense of it all.  The next few paragraphs illustrate why.  Stay with me here…

Philosophy incorporates three laws of thought, to wit: 1) Nothing can be and not be at the same time; 2) Something either is or is not; and 3) A thing is what it is (such as words, which simply describe what is).