interview with Thoreauvian on morality and ethics
Thread Closed 
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
14-02-2018, 10:06 PM (This post was last modified: 14-02-2018 10:12 PM by Thoreauvian.)
RE: interview with Thoreauvian on morality and ethics
Specific applications of moral principles are always "bound by circumstances", though our principles themselves are much less so. Our modern laws reflect the intricacies even while our moral systems uphold our generalized ideals.

I think there are at least three levels of conflicts when it comes to people behaving well. The first conflict is between individual interests and group interests. (Individual interests are fine in win-win situations, but in what are perceived as zero-sum situations they become problematic.) The second conflict is between moral dogmatists and situationalists. Equality for women is opposed both by people with individual interests in keeping women subservient (male chauvinists and companies employing women in particular) and moral dogmatists (religious people in particular). People who have indulged in any number of human defects for their own advantages over others will often oppose the exercise of moral behaviors in their close proximity, in the fear that they will lose whatever advantage they have gained and be publically shamed in the process.

The third level of conflict is between an individual's ideals and his or her abilities to pursue them. The world itself places restrictions on our exercise of moral behaviors, since we all only have so much time and energy for any efforts, and so much attention we can pay, and our wherewithal is so often committed to getting by in daily life. You hinted at this limitation by mentioned "rich country problems", since some moral issues can only be confronted when more pressing problems are solved. Of course, for many people who profit from human defects, this makes the maintenance of the status quo by whatever means a very useful strategy to prevent achieving moral goals which are against their selfish interests.

Even entropy plays against us in the pursuit of a more moral world, since what we build up for our benefit slowly erodes, decays, or becomes irrelevant with time passing.
Find all posts by this user
[+] 2 users Like Thoreauvian's post
14-02-2018, 11:19 PM
RE: interview with Thoreauvian on morality and ethics
If applications of moral principles are always bound by circumstances, what are the principles themselves and how were they developped/discovered?

Freedom is servitude to justice and intellectual honesty.
Find all posts by this user
[+] 1 user Likes epronovost's post
15-02-2018, 05:38 AM (This post was last modified: 15-02-2018 05:42 AM by Thoreauvian.)
RE: interview with Thoreauvian on morality and ethics
(14-02-2018 11:19 PM)epronovost Wrote:  If applications of moral principles are always bound by circumstances, what are the principles themselves and how were they developped/discovered?

As I mentioned at the beginning of the discussion, humans require very specific conditions in which to avoid pains, seek pleasures, and in general flourish. Those are the most general principles guiding moral behaviors. They were developed by the efforts of many moral thinkers over long stretches of time. I am simply offering what I take to be an accurate summary.

Pleasures and pains are fairly similar between people, so there is a fairly narrow range of appropriate moral applications for those principles, i.e. don't intentionally cause yourself or others unnecessary pain, make your life and the lives of others pleasant, etc. Many more specific moral actions fall under those categories.

However, how each individual pursues his or her own idea of flourishing can be highly idiosyncratic, even within the social constraints of not harming others and performing useful roles in society. Such pursuits are what are most often "bound by circumstances", and those circumstances include the talents and other resources of the individual, their opportunities, the limits of the environment and so on. Each case is different, although all cases may fall into different generalized categories.

Of course, this is all still talking on a general level. The devil is always in the details because of the tradeoffs and unintended consequences of a wide variety of experimental behaviors. That is what makes our legal system so lively.

But what are the alternatives? Religious people who say they offer "objective morality" are really just repeating a faith statement, that God, who knows best, has somehow told them exactly what to do. Since I define the word "objective" as "unbiased" or "pertaining to realities", it seems quite clear to me that religious moral systems are neither. Only more complex approaches to moral questions such as I have outlined can encompass the objective realities of the modern world.
Find all posts by this user
[+] 1 user Likes Thoreauvian's post
15-02-2018, 10:16 AM
RE: interview with Thoreauvian on morality and ethics
Do you believe laws and institutions linked to justice, power and education are founded on favored application of moral principles and ethics?

To what extand should moral principles be enforced within a society? For example, should public education make mandatory the teaching of a series of values and practices that goes beyond the simple respect of the law

Freedom is servitude to justice and intellectual honesty.
Find all posts by this user
[+] 2 users Like epronovost's post
15-02-2018, 11:40 AM
RE: interview with Thoreauvian on morality and ethics
(15-02-2018 10:16 AM)epronovost Wrote:  Do you believe laws and institutions linked to justice, power and education are founded on favored application of moral principles and ethics?

To what extent should moral principles be enforced within a society? For example, should public education make mandatory the teaching of a series of values and practices that goes beyond the simple respect of the law

Yes certainly, laws and institutions are founded on moral principles and ethics, as well as on other philosophical and religious considerations like aesthetics and metaphysics.

Public schools already teach certain behaviors; it's unavoidable. As far as teaching additional ethics is concerned, you must consider the difference between mandatory versus individually chosen moral behaviors. Society always demands at least a certain minimum level of moral behavior from its citizens, through the enforcement of its laws and regulations. Anything above and beyond that minimum is considered elective, or undertaken from personal motivations. However, I think we are quickly reaching a point where we will have to ask more from people, and especially from our richest citizens, to try to get climate change under control. We can encourage or require certain behaviors through taxes and regulations.

But using such a top-down approach is rather fraught in the U.S., since we have such strong, anti-authoritarian traditions. We also and especially need to take bottom-up approaches, where more people are encouraged to change their behaviors without being coerced or forced. This can and is being done, largely through social media and spreading information about the problems we confront. And many people seem to be responding positively.

Beyond that, I personally would love to see public education teach about logical fallacies, climate change, comparative religions, ethics, and other such subjects, but I'm not holding my breath. I assume conservative politics would make such progress unlikely.
Find all posts by this user
[+] 1 user Likes Thoreauvian's post
15-02-2018, 12:11 PM
RE: interview with Thoreauvian on morality and ethics
I would like to add that I think what I have written is a fairly common sense understanding of ethics. Although I have talked more in generalities than about specifics, I understood this to be the purpose of the interview. We often get so bogged down in details that we sometimes loose sight of general principles.

We humans avoid pains, pursue pleasures, and go about our business. That, to me, is human nature in a nutshell, and human nature is the basis of common sense ethics.
Find all posts by this user
[+] 3 users Like Thoreauvian's post
16-02-2018, 10:41 AM (This post was last modified: 16-02-2018 10:44 AM by Thoreauvian.)
RE: interview with Thoreauvian on morality and ethics
Epronovost --

For my part, I'm finished with our discussion. I hope I wasn't too boring.

I would be interested in any comments you might like to add.

Otherwise, I now look forward to your interview of Robvalue.
Find all posts by this user
16-02-2018, 12:11 PM
RE: interview with Thoreauvian on morality and ethics
I do agree that we have pretty much presented a complete picture of your views on morality and I would like to mention that despite the fact that I don't use the same terminology and the same frame, we arrive both at rigorously at the exact same view and analysis on morality. This to me seems to indicate that a large portion of the debate on morality is pedentry more than conflict over moral principles and foundation. Thanks for participating, to mods please close this thread and eat a cookie (because cookies are delicious and are moral to eat).

Freedom is servitude to justice and intellectual honesty.
Find all posts by this user
[+] 1 user Likes epronovost's post
Thread Closed 
Forum Jump: