Ethics: Its use and meaning

Discussions that deal with moral issues. Key questions in ethics include: How should one live? What is right (or wrong) to do? What is the best way for humans to live?

Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby BadgerJelly on January 18th, 2017, 3:15 am 

I have recently expressed my view of ethics and thought it worth making a post about it.

My view is quite simply and is meant to display ethical questions as non-questions.

By this I mean that an ethical question is not meant to be answered so it is not strictly a question because a question suggests an answer. So to view an "ethical question" as a "non-question" takes away the idea of an ideal solution to some proposed ethical problem we may be faced with.

For me ethics is about intent, forethought and hindsight. The point of posing an ethical problem is not to find a conclusive solution, but to equip ourselves for possible future conflicts of interest. Once we've proposed a problem we then expand it with "ifs" and "buts". The point of this exercise is to ready ourselves for a real life similar situation we've explored through ethical investigation.

As an example, if I was in a burning building with a child I would like to think I would help save the child. In a real life situation a may simply be too scared and panicked to consider the child. I would deeply regret not saving child. What I believe is through ethical investigations we can play around with given scenarios in order to act as we want to act, to ready ourselves for a stressful situation and to act as we see fit. If I did not save the child with hindsight I would learn the distress this causes firsthand and feel guilty. I would assume if this was to happen again I would naturally want to avoid such suffering and that I would save the child. With enough enforced foresight into the conmplexity of emotions in such a real life situation I would bebable to imagine possible future regret at not saving the child and then upon experiencing a well thoughtout experience in reality I would act who I would ethically want to act.

So I am saying that ethics is not about saying "I would save the child", the ethics is about understanding the complexities of the situation and readying yourself for as many possible ethical problems as you can in order to act as you would want to act.

So the ethical "question" is a "non-question". It is not a case of simy saying X is right and Y is wrong. The point of ethics is to exore the subtleties and twist the scenario around in order to explore and enforce hownyou wish to act in such a given circumstance. Once you find a reasonable and comfortable hypothetical response to some given scenario then you twist it further and further to increase the compatibility of the hypothetical with some real situation.

Understanding this I believe helps usnto understand guilt, hownto cope with guilt and how to avoid acting in ways we ourselves consider unethical.

So when asked "What would you do if X?" to answer conclusively is an avoidance of ethics.

If you disagree with what I am saying I would very much like to hear why.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby Scott Mayers on January 18th, 2017, 4:20 am 

I was only thrown off by your use of the word, "ethics" here, but don't necessarily disagree with what you mean. "Ethics" is the set of "morals" of some usual organized system (more than one person type of group) more formally negotiated on. So I'm guessing you are referring to personal moral reflection here?

So, to reflect, are you saying that it is better not to take on some universal moral code for all situations but to treat each one with respect to their circumstances? For instance, if one is technically 19 years old who has sex with an 18 year old (where this is illegal in law), instead of being strict to the law, we might be better off giving leniency to the circumstances. [The 19 year old could be one day older to their 18 year old partner whom they'd been already dating for a year, for instance.]
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby BadgerJelly on January 18th, 2017, 5:02 am 

I am unconcerned with the law.

I am sayinf "ethics" is not meant to reach such an idea of right or wrong. The law in society puts in place certain standards, but that is a different subject.

My concern here is ethical questions being approached as if there is an answer. So I call them "non-questions" and that the point of ethics is to explore hypotheticals in order to shape and adhere to personal views of what is deemed ethical or not by you (be it shaped by societal laws or not).

Do I think it is not better to take kn a a universal moral.code? That is an ethical question, or rather "non-question" to be investigated. I cam then explore circumstances where I believe a universal mode is a good option and then decide to twist it so as not to be so easy for me to take one view over another.

Ethically I do not "conclude" I investigate and expand. Only in life do I come to make a choice between X and Y and the investogation of the hypothetical problems allows me to prepare myself and make decisions I am hapoy with after the event.

As an example I may ask "Is it good to kill people?". I think no. Then I apply this question to a scenario where I am not so sure or where the absolute nature of my previous "no" answer is redundant. For example I may ask "Is it good to kill one bad person to save a million good people" ... then we would obviously move to what person is deemed "bad" enough to destablise my previous opinion. And we can go on amd on ...

Sonif I am then by some circumstances put in a position where I can kill someone to save others I am readily equiped with a blueprint and more able to determine a course of action I will regret less and feel most comfortable with.

So ethics is an infinite hypothetical task taken on in order to do what you personally feel is the right thing to do. What others thunk is right or what the law deems as right will obviously have some influence on your decisions and what you are willing to do.

I am not saying it is bad or good to have universal laws. I am saying as an individual I make the choice of what I am willing to do and can enforce my beliefs into future actions if I investiagte them from multiple angles.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby Scott Mayers on January 18th, 2017, 5:14 am 

Then you may be thinking about 'optimizing' your actions according to conditions?
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby BadgerJelly on January 18th, 2017, 10:38 am 

Scott Mayers » January 18th, 2017, 5:14 pm wrote:Then you may be thinking about 'optimizing' your actions according to conditions?


I guess? I don't think I am saying anything extraordinary. I was just curious to see if anyone would call this "bad" position from which to approach life. We have to live so I don't literally sit around contemplating every possible ethical problem I may be faced with or I will find myself "inactive" in my daily life.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby mitchellmckain on January 18th, 2017, 7:09 pm 

Ethics, in its greatest generality, is the study of the human idea that some actions are right and commendable while others are wrong and to be condemned. This study has become a very important branch of philosophy in modern times because new technology and other new human activities require us to confront many unexpected situations where we have no precedent to guide us.

There are a variety of approaches that people have taken to ethics.

1. Authoritarian ethics: It all goes back to the dictation of some ultimate authority.
2. Ethical nihilism: There is no right and wrong except in mental constructs of some people and their delusions.
3. Rational ethics: There is a logic or reasoning behind why some things are or should be right and others are or should be wrong.
4. Normative ethics then seeks describe a universal logic for the proper ethical thinking of human beings.
5. Situational ethics observes that too rigid a system of ethical logic can crash and burn in the face of complex situations and thus we must be flexible enough to temper reason with other considerations like compassion.

Personally, I take the route of rational ethics with a form of Aristotle's Virtue Ethics as my normative approach and I guess I respond to the challenge of situational ethics with an affirmation of the diversity of human thought. In other words, I think some situations are too ethically complex for the outside observer to judge and people simply have to make their own choices about what they can best live with in those circumstances.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby someguy1 on January 18th, 2017, 10:42 pm 

BadgerJelly » January 18th, 2017, 1:15 am wrote:If I did not save the child with hindsight I would learn the distress this causes firsthand and feel guilty. I would assume if this was to happen again I would naturally want to avoid such suffering and that I would save the child.


So you only act ethically to avoid your own emotional pain? Those are the ethics of a sociopath. An individual who didn't feel guilt would have no ethical obligation to save a life by this logic.

I don't think you're a sociopath, but perhaps you didn't fully think about what you wrote. Surely there are reasons to save a life other than avoiding feeling guilty afterward.

The novel Lord Jim comes to mind. A moment of cowardice resulting in a lifetime of guilt. If he'd taken your advice he'd have saved those lives not because he cared about them as humans, but simply to spare himself the guilt. I suppose that reason's better than nothing, but I don't think it's sufficient as a moral principle. "Do whatever will avoid my feeing guilty."

But maybe you're right. Perhaps this really is the motivation behind many virtuous acts.

ps -- The movie Casablanca comes to mind. At the end the hero, played by Humphrey Bogart, sends away the woman he loves so she can be with a man she doesn't love, in order to serve the war effort.

That is a far higher ethic than simply avoiding emotional pain. The Bogart character endures the emotional pain of lost love in order to support a higher cause. Or as Rick says:

I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that.

Now THAT's ethics. Or perhaps it's only Hollywood.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby BadgerJelly on January 19th, 2017, 1:58 am 

Someguy -

I am not saying it is all about guilt. I was just trying to show that by exploring hypothetical scenarios we can as individuals lessen our mistakes. Some people may feel happy to let the child die. I see no "wrong" with this. It is not something I would like to have done though and I may do so if too scared. My point being if I emotionally explore such conundrums I am more likely to act in a manner I (the I is important here) deem the best manner.

As another example there may be a big bag of money. Some people may be greedy and take the money not the child. The point of ethics for me is to explore this scenario and see what you think is the "best" thing to do. Someone who thinks it is best to take the money will likely not say thisbto other people knowing the general social reaction to such thoughts. Ethics is mostly about personal opinion and how an individual copes with their decisions and refines them to best fit into what they deem right and wrong not simply pander to common law.

What I am trying to say is if you are asked a question such as this you should not answer it out loud. The point is it expand the question not act there is some universal right or wrong answer given the nimber of complex possibilities that could be involved.

Mitch -

Another level of what I am saying is that all situations should be regarded as complex. The point is to push the situation further in order to give solidity to situations of lesser complexity. We never truly know what the "right" thing to do is because we cannot see into the future. We can only set up hypothetical scenarios and then enforce our idea of how to "best" act in many given situations so when a situation comes along we can make a quicker and more informed action where deep ethical contemplation is just not possible.

As an example maybe in the burning building I can either save five old women or four infants. I do not have the opportunity to sit down and mull over the complexity of this inner battle within. If I did we would all die (which may very well be the ethical decision of some people for all I know!).

Ethics is about preparation. It is about willing yourseld to act as would please you.

I am sure we've all asked ourselves if we'd risk our lives to save someone else. Given the level of risk we will all find an area we are less comfortable with. I think it depends on what you've instilled in yourseld as the best thing to do. I believe Plato talked about this kind of thing with bravery. The hero is honoured for essentially being lucky. The hero made themselves a hero by having no choice but to act as they acted. In other situations they'd be deemed foolish or idiotic. For me the opinions of others is not the direct movitating force. If it is then it is an unethical act.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby mitchellmckain on January 19th, 2017, 3:56 am 

BadgerJelly » January 19th, 2017, 12:58 am wrote:Mitch -

Another level of what I am saying is that all situations should be regarded as complex.

And I reject this as an absolute, black and white assertion. As such it sounds like nothing more than an excuse for the most psychopathic person to do whatever he pleases. Thus to counter this I would assert there are objective ethical absolutes derivable from sound reasoning which at least stand as guiding principles even if they cannot be treated as intractable rules. Just as in physics we can set the rules of such principles in abstract circumstances. In the above example with the child this means that when we exclude competing ethical concerns then we can assign and ethical values to the various options. It is of course when we have to find a balance between competing ethical concerns that we are faced with a complex ethical choice for which there easily may be no right answer.

BadgerJelly » January 19th, 2017, 12:58 am wrote: The point is to push the situation further in order to give solidity to situations of lesser complexity. We never truly know what the "right" thing to do is because we cannot see into the future.

NO! That only applies to the normative approach to ethics called consequentialism which I reject. It is NOT simply the results which determine whether an action is right or wrong. The virtue approach to normative ethics only considers what the actions themselves say about the person doing them. Back to our example we ask what kind of person ignores the desperate cries of the child with only concern about their own well being and what kind of person makes an effort to respond to the need of the child? The result of our choices is rarely something we can control -- it is only our choice of actions itself which has a bearing on their ethical value. Is the person who spares no thought for the child validated when the child is rescued by someone else? No -- no more than the person the choice to help is ethically wrong just because their efforts fail to save the child.

BadgerJelly » January 19th, 2017, 12:58 am wrote: We can only set up hypothetical scenarios and then enforce our idea of how to "best" act in many given situations so when a situation comes along we can make a quicker and more informed action where deep ethical contemplation is just not possible.

Well that is another issue entirely. It is certainly commendable when someone prepares themselves in this way to make better choices under those circumstances. But we can hardly prepare for every possibility and thus it is unreasonable to make failing to prepare for a particular possibility the basis for condemnation.

BadgerJelly » January 19th, 2017, 12:58 am wrote:As an example maybe in the burning building I can either save five old women or four infants. I do not have the opportunity to sit down and mull over the complexity of this inner battle within. If I did we would all die (which may very well be the ethical decision of some people for all I know!).

Nor can we expect people to have thought about such unusual situations before the fact. At most we can only hope that someone involved will be able to think quickly in order to reach the most rational conclusion on this matter. In any case, your example with competing ethical demands is an example of a complex situation, even if not terribly so becaue there are simple practical reasons for one choice over another.

BadgerJelly » January 19th, 2017, 12:58 am wrote:Ethics is about preparation. It is about willing yourseld to act as would please you.

Incorrect. Preparation is only ONE application for ethics and there are others. The application which I mentioned in my post was to deal with new situations arising for which we have no precedent.

BadgerJelly » January 19th, 2017, 12:58 am wrote:I am sure we've all asked ourselves if we'd risk our lives to save someone else. Given the level of risk we will all find an area we are less comfortable with. I think it depends on what you've instilled in yourseld as the best thing to do. I believe Plato talked about this kind of thing with bravery. The hero is honoured for essentially being lucky. The hero made themselves a hero by having no choice but to act as they acted. In other situations they'd be deemed foolish or idiotic. For me the opinions of others is not the direct movitating force. If it is then it is an unethical act.

The honoring of a "hero" is more an issue of perception and politics rather than reality. It has more to do with making a public statement about what kind of choices and actions we commend and applaud in our society.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby BadgerJelly on January 19th, 2017, 6:02 am 

Mitch -

What absolute? I am talking about precisely going against the idea of some hypothetical absolute answer. I am saying the point of the hypothetical is not to give an absolute answer, but to intricate it and further self understanding. Sorry if that was not clear.

Didn't mention consequentiism. I was referring to what I mentioned previosuly about forethought and hindsight in respect to how we adjust our ethical choices. With exploration of some "question" we can come to understand how certain outcomes will effect our future actions in similar circumstances.

What you say is "another issue entirely" is the main issue of what I am saying. Sorry if this wasn't clear. I am not saying people need to imagine every possible ethical scenario possible. I am saying ethics is about doing the next best thing and creating hypotheticals that can be widely applied yet do not necessarily demand an absolute answer to any particular scenario. What is more if I am asked a "What would you do?" Question I would not answer it. I would ask furteher questions about the scenario and keep my personal choices to myself rather than try amd bend public opinion to my will in some guven ethical dilemma.

To repeat I am.not talking about specific situations to explore as if you'll find yourself in such situations everyday. The point is to investigate your own personal ethical makeup and instill in yourself actions you deem as "good" or "bad" understanding that this is an ongoing process that will need constant tinkering. I am opposing ethical absolutes, but not saying there is literally no ethical structure to be had ... because obviously we possess some form of structure.

Incorrect to you. It is your right to view my view of ethics as "incorrect" though. My position is stated above about my thoughts. Although it is a.bad choice of words on my part. I think in general it should not be too hard to see I mean this as a means to investigate ourselves and our ethical positions and to be ready to continually adjust them understanding we can do things that we are ethically opposed to due to lack of foresight. It is when we commit acts we are ashamed of we have an opportunity to explore our "faults" and attempt to adjust them to fit our personal liking (success in this area is a debatable thing, but we all try to do and be "better" whatever such a term.may mean for us).

I agree the "hero" is a public idea. Ethics is also a public idea. I was just trying to point out the bias of public opinion. You may be called a hero or a fool where in action there is essentially no difference here.

To sum up I guess you've managed to uncover a point I have about "ethics". The idea of rational thought supplanting emotion to me fails to see.the heart of the ethical problems. This is why I openly oppose the idea of an absolute answer, and more importantly, have attmepted to emphasis opposition to an absolute question and so I call ethical questions "non-questions".

I bring this up because I see many people on forums giving some answer to hypothetical questions like there is nowhere else to explore after making their "obvious" answer. I do recognise that I myself have been guilty of such a self deceit (to what extent is up to the judgement of others and myself if I wish to look back ove rmy posts).

I should repeat though that I of course understand that ethics as a political activity involving law making is something a little further away from what I am talkign about here. That is why I said that I was not talking about what is or is not considered lawful. Such an area is entangled in our individual thoughts yet as an individual I am under no obligation to live by the law yet understand that my individual ethical approach is shaped by such laws and even held back by them.

I am happy to discuss the law elsewhere. I will merely say now I do not think law creates justice. In many instances we can see how some laws cause great harm to others because they hide by over rationalised simplifications of terms that are twisted to fit the needs of those with enough power and influence to employ people to do so. The fact that there are lawyers who win more than others shows that it is notnthe law that is making the decision it is the manipulations of the lawyers of certain laws set in place that are meant to protect innocent people, but sadly do the exact opposite. It is here the law fails and ethics are placed on the sidelines in favour of blindly following some rule. But hey! Corruption is part of life ;)
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby Athena on January 19th, 2017, 1:03 pm 

As an example, if I was in a burning building with a child I would like to think I would help save the child. In a real life situation a may simply be too scared and panicked to consider the child.


What you do is a matter of your character and Mark Twain said something to effect, you will do whatever it is your nature to do, and you can not do differently.

Having ideals is a wonderful thing, because they give our lives direction. When we know the direction we want to go, we can work on our virtues and develop our character and study the principles of the ideal.

an absolute answer
will get an absolute action because there is no doubt of the action that must be taken.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby BadgerJelly on February 2nd, 2017, 12:17 pm 

Athena -

The point is thought that the situation is not a "question" we can mull over. An action taken without thought is an action taken without thought and one which we may instantly regret. We can work to shape our actions by exploring what we wish we would do and by pressing ourselves to justify such actions morally not live by a rule of regret brought on by lack of consideration (forethought/planning).
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby Athena on February 2nd, 2017, 1:52 pm 

BadgerJelly » February 2nd, 2017, 10:17 am wrote:Athena -

The point is thought that the situation is not a "question" we can mull over. An action taken without thought is an action taken without thought and one which we may instantly regret. We can work to shape our actions by exploring what we wish we would do and by pressing ourselves to justify such actions morally not live by a rule of regret brought on by lack of consideration (forethought/planning).


Why would you say we may instantly regret our reactions to the stimulus in the moment?

I do regret saying a bad word to a medical receptionist, but only because the medical organization has the power to hurt me and those I am associated with. I think my reason for using bad language was fully justified and that their organization needs correcting not me. True bad language was not the most eloquent way to announce there is a problem, but it was in response to an uncaring tone of voice that shut down further communication.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby BadgerJelly on February 2nd, 2017, 8:52 pm 

I say it because we may? We may, like you say, choose to think a typically "bad" reaction to be justified.

I may run from a burning building and regret not helping someone, I may strike someone in anger amd instantly regret it, etc.,.

I was simply making the point that if we'd playing out these kind of scenarios in our heads we'd be more likely to act in ways we wouldn't regret. That is not to say hypothetical contemplations will guarantee that we will act more in accord with our ethical beliefs. The real life situation can never be replicated exactly.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby mitchellmckain on June 3rd, 2017, 4:34 pm 

BadgerJelly » February 2nd, 2017, 7:52 pm wrote:I was simply making the point that if we'd playing out these kind of scenarios in our heads we'd be more likely to act in ways we wouldn't regret. That is not to say hypothetical contemplations will guarantee that we will act more in accord with our ethical beliefs. The real life situation can never be replicated exactly.


Indeed. I have always thought that this kind of preparation is what makes the difference between those who panic or are paralyzed by fear in such situations and those who act both coolly and responsibly in such situations. Of course, emergency professionals do this one better, for they repeatedly practice such responses as a matter of routine in their work.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby Athena on June 5th, 2017, 11:55 am 

As an example, if I was in a burning building with a child I would like to think I would help save the child. In a real life situation I may simply be too scared and panicked to consider the child. I would deeply regret not saving child. What I believe is through ethical investigations we can play around with given scenarios in order to act as we want to act, to ready ourselves for a stressful situation and to act as we see fit.


I mentioned a difficult situation in another thread, but here I see an opportunity to take advantage of this approach to figure things out.

My great grandson lives with his mother and for awhile she had a gay partner. A couple of years ago, they were eating hot dogs and one of them jokingly made a comment with a sexual connotation. They knew they were speaking over the child's head and no one expected him to be paying attention to what they said. Unfortunately, the child was paying careful attention to what people thought was funny. He didn't understand the joke but when a girl was sliding a hot dog in and out of her mouth in the school cafeteria, he repeated what he heard excepting to get laughs and good friendship feelings.

The teacher had a very bad reaction to his joke and gave him a referral. He was told the referral was because he said something that might have hurt someone. An explanation that makes absolutely no sense to him, adding confusion and a sense of injustice to his pain. The school can not be honest about why he got a referral because no one wants to explain sex to him nor do they want to explain about straight people and gay people, etc.. I have called them on this. Everyone has much to learn here.

The teacher may think she is protecting gays from hurtful jokes, but this is not the case because it was the gays who thought the joke was very funny. She can not be aware of this because she is not experiencing life as a gay. For her to protect the gay population she needs to think, what if in a homosexual home this is a way to increase bonding and good feelings. Badgerjelly, I wish I had thought of what you said when I contacted the school.

Even if she does mean to protect gay people she is thinking of the joke from an adult's point of view, not the child who does not understand the sexual connotations. I told her she should have questioned the child's understanding of what was said, before making a referral.

Now the school is dealing with a hurt and confused child and a mother and great grandmother who are not pleased with what happened, they are trying to dimish the damage by saying a referral is not big of deal. To that I reply, they really do not want parents and children to think a referral is not a big deal because then a referral would loose its effectiveness. I see no way out of this now other than to explain sex and why the joke was not socially appropriate and no one wants to do this. If they want to protect the gay community they need to expand their understanding of it and they need to consider a child does not automatically know what happens in his/her home is not common to all homes.

Mom and I are feeling defensive, because the child came home crying, and is dealing with disapproval and he is confused about why he why got a referral. For him, there is no justice in what happened and he is powerless to do anything about it. Okay how is this fixed?
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby Braininvat on June 5th, 2017, 1:36 pm 

Parental and teacher hyperventilation seems to be the new American way of life. It's ridiculous. The girl is sliding a hot dog in and out of her mouth, but he's the only one who is being offensive? Not only an overreaction, but seems sort of sexist that the girl gets a pass for what one might construe as equally suggestive behavior.

Given that young children tend to make the humorous connection between penises (AKA "wieners") and hot dogs, and that lewd metaphors seem to be a normal part of childhood and playfulness with both language (and said body parts), we really need to lighten up and stop obsessing over what is "appropriate." One of the joys of childhood and youth is being inappropriate. Turning this playing around with social propriety into something sinful or even criminal is beyond absurd: it is a grotesque regression to a humorless Puritanism.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby mitchellmckain on June 6th, 2017, 10:31 am 

I am going to have to reserve judgement because Althea's example is too vague and abstract. We have no reason to accept her interpretation of events and her considerations of what are the salient issues. It is quite possible that upon seeing the whole story with all the details, we might well find reason to support the school in the effort to discourage certain things.

Just because the child is innocent in all this does not change this in the slightest. Something similar happened with my eldest when he took his art project onto the school bus with him. The driver stopped the bus and called the police as required by school district policy, because even if it is used for an artistic purpose a knife is still a knife and should not be taken to school. We have every right to limit what is acceptable in certain public venues.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby Athena on June 6th, 2017, 10:53 am 

Braininvat » June 5th, 2017, 11:36 am wrote:Parental and teacher hyperventilation seems to be the new American way of life. It's ridiculous. The girl is sliding a hot dog in and out of her mouth, but he's the only one who is being offensive? Not only an overreaction, but seems sort of sexist that the girl gets a pass for what one might construe as equally suggestive behavior.

Given that young children tend to make the humorous connection between penises (AKA "wieners") and hot dogs, and that lewd metaphors seem to be a normal part of childhood and playfulness with both language (and said body parts), we really need to lighten up and stop obsessing over what is "appropriate." One of the joys of childhood and youth is being inappropriate. Turning this playing around with social propriety into something sinful or even criminal is beyond absurd: it is a grotesque regression to a humorless Puritanism.



Wow, thank you! I don't want to hijack this thread with my rants about excesses that I think manifest paranoia, in the schools and criminal justice system (that I think is unjust). But I think all this goes with education for technology.

While on the other hand, the intent of this thread is opposite to paranoia, and along the lines of the morality, I get from old books. Old books are more forgiving of being human. In the past, we thought age 30 was still youth because it takes a long time to learn how to think our way through life, rather just react to it. Doesn't this thread ask us to think our way through life?

Thinking our way through life seems lacking not only in the efforts of the schools and justice system to control but also receptionist type people are behaving as androids. Everyone today knows the policy that controls every transaction, and humanness has gone from these interactions. The effort to appear human while also being controlled by policy reminds me of the movie Passengers when the man comes out of hibernation too early and has only computerized holograms, robots and androids to interact with. The TV show "Humans" also deals with the shortcomings of androids. But from my perceptive, the problem is not somewhere in the future but here and now. People are controlled by policies and they are acting like androids. "How are you?" "Perfect" "Great" It is so bloody superficial and frivolous I hate it.

This thread asks us to think.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby Braininvat on June 6th, 2017, 10:56 am 

I am going to have to reserve judgement because Althea's example is too vague and abstract. We have no reason to accept her interpretation of events and her considerations of what are the salient issues. It is quite possible that upon seeing the whole story with all the details, we might well find reason to support the school in the effort to discourage certain things.

Just because the child is innocent in all this does not change this in the slightest. Something similar happened with my eldest when he took his art project onto the school bus with him. The driver stopped the bus and called the police as required by school district policy, because even if it is used for an artistic purpose a knife is still a knife and should not be taken to school. We have every right to limit what is acceptable in certain public venues.

- MM

Well, true, am just going on the story as presented. I would tend to see a fairly clear distinction between bringing a knife (where I agree that weapons are verboten) and a sexual joke. In this case, the famous typo might be reflected upon:

The penis mightier than the sword.

The child shouldn't disrupt class with jokes or interruptions, but I don't think children can work out social interactions, and boundaries to cross or not cross, in the cafeteria or lunchroom, with constant adult micromanagement.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby Athena on June 6th, 2017, 11:29 am 

mitchellmckain » June 6th, 2017, 8:31 am wrote:I am going to have to reserve judgement because Althea's example is too vague and abstract. We have no reason to accept her interpretation of events and her considerations of what are the salient issues. It is quite possible that upon seeing the whole story with all the details, we might well find reason to support the school in the effort to discourage certain things.

Just because the child is innocent in all this does not change this in the slightest. Something similar happened with my eldest when he took his art project onto the school bus with him. The driver stopped the bus and called the police as required by school district policy, because even if it is used for an artistic purpose a knife is still a knife and should not be taken to school. We have every right to limit what is acceptable in certain public venues.


Hail Hilter. Excuse me but you seem to be representing the very thing I find wrong with our society today. This is not a society fit for humans. It is far from the liberty we defended in two world wars. Thank you for the perfect, absolutely perfect example of what has gone so wrong. Using Hitler's name to make my point may be offensive, but it nails what I have been saying for years. We are on the path Germany followed and now we have our Hitler. Hitler gave us the Volkswagon and he did some really good things, but we do not judge him for what he did well. I think calling the police on an art student thinking his knife is a tool required for his project is very bad judgment! Very bad judgment. This is police state thinking, not the democracy coming out of the enlightenment that we inherited and defended in two world wars.

Folks we really need education for our democracy, because what we have today is not it.

I want to add to this, if young boys were allowed to push and shove and grow up as they once did, maybe the passengers on all the hijacked planes the day of 9/11, would have prevented the destruction done that day, instead of the passengers of only one plane stopping the hijackers. If we do not understand what we stand for and actually stand for it, we are in deep trouble. We have become self-centered jellyfish, protecting our self-interest instead of the greater interest of us all. We prepared every child to be a hero, now we have a bus driver obeying the authority above him and depending on the police to manage a student who was not a threat to anyone. Please give me someone who doesn't allow someone to bully him or hijack the plane he is in, not an obedient servant of the police state and someone who can tell the difference between an innocent child and someone who is a threat.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby Braininvat on June 6th, 2017, 1:26 pm 

Hail Hilter. Excuse me but you seem to be representing the very thing I find wrong with our society today. This is not a society fit for humans. It is far from the liberty we defended in two world wars. Thank you for the perfect, absolutely perfect example of what has gone so wrong. Using Hitler's name to make my point may be offensive....


A couple thoughts:

1. Yes, it is offensive, since you are directing the Hitler comparison directly at another member, for posting something that did not strike me as really too congruent with National Socialism in Germany. Whatever your point, that is an ad hominem and should be edited out of your post.

2. You seem to disregard Mitchell's first sentence, in which he says that he is reserving judgment because your account of the events at the school are too sketchy and might be missing crucial bits of information.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby Athena on June 7th, 2017, 9:20 am 

Scott Mayers » January 18th, 2017, 2:20 am wrote:I was only thrown off by your use of the word, "ethics" here, but don't necessarily disagree with what you mean. "Ethics" is the set of "morals" of some usual organized system (more than one person type of group) more formally negotiated on. So I'm guessing you are referring to personal moral reflection here?

So, to reflect, are you saying that it is better not to take on some universal moral code for all situations but to treat each one with respect to their circumstances? For instance, if one is technically 19 years old who has sex with an 18 year old (where this is illegal in law), instead of being strict to the law, we might be better off giving leniency to the circumstances. [The 19 year old could be one day older to their 18 year old partner whom they'd been already dating for a year, for instance.]


I had not heard ethical means a group decision but I am okay with that. We taught children a set of American values. So you are saying that would be a US standard of ethics? We sure need this.

As for judging the 19 year old having sex with the 18 year old, it was not that long ago when judges could decide each case and use judgment in each case to decide the degree of wrong and if an exception to the rule should be made. We once held going by the letter of the law is another form of tyranny and we valued the judgment of people. I very much wish we could return to that reasoning.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby Athena on June 7th, 2017, 10:00 am 

Braininvat » June 6th, 2017, 11:26 am wrote:
Hail Hilter. Excuse me but you seem to be representing the very thing I find wrong with our society today. This is not a society fit for humans. It is far from the liberty we defended in two world wars. Thank you for the perfect, absolutely perfect example of what has gone so wrong. Using Hitler's name to make my point may be offensive....


A couple thoughts:

1. Yes, it is offensive, since you are directing the Hitler comparison directly at another member, for posting something that did not strike me as really too congruent with National Socialism in Germany. Whatever your point, that is an ad hominem and should be edited out of your post.

2. You seem to disregard Mitchell's first sentence, in which he says that he is reserving judgment because your account of the events at the school are too sketchy and might be missing crucial bits of information.


And what about the point? The US adopted the German models of bureaucracy and education and we are now what we defended our democracy against. And my Hail Hitler is never directed against one person, it is directed against the mentality that has consumed the democracy that we defended in two world wars. I am almost never making personal arguments and I wish no one did. I am speaking on a social level, not a personal one. This is serious. The most serious thing we could discuss, It matters more than the science theories that are argued here. We fought two bloody wars to defend a way of life that is now lost to us, except for a few holdouts who are battling to save our democracy. My spirits are lifted when I see a Bill Moyer show that speaks of the democracy we had and what we need to do to salvage it or a news report about a teacher teaching children how to think independently and how to judge news and if it is distorted or not.

Please, try googling "US adopts German model of education and see what you find". I just did and I am thrilled because for the first time I see this leads to talk of Prussia. If I live long enough, maybe everyone will be arguing what has gone wrong with our democracy and what we must do to fix it. My spirits are lifted as I am seeing more and more arguments saying what I have been saying for many years. And I think this is more important than if electromagnetism is part of living forms or not, or any of the other science arguments.

I argue with some of those who talk and write about the US adopting the Prussian model of education because they neglect to explain how our education also transmitted a culture for our democracy. That culture was very different than what we have today, and as I said, more and more people are joining the fight to save that past culture. This is slightly more important than a personal disagreement. Are you every going to get this is about defending the democracy we had? As was done when the Prussians took control of Germany, our national heroes were destroyed. We stopped transmitting our culture. That culture is vital to our liberty and justice. I am not talking on a personal petty level.

We went from education for individual judgement to "group thinking" and group think is about living under authority, in a police state. When anyone speaks in favor of the police state I will say Hail Hitler and pray people begin to get the meaning of what I am saying and this is not a personal petty comment.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby Athena on June 7th, 2017, 10:14 am 

mitchellmckain » June 6th, 2017, 8:31 am wrote:I am going to have to reserve judgement because Althea's example is too vague and abstract. We have no reason to accept her interpretation of events and her considerations of what are the salient issues. It is quite possible that upon seeing the whole story with all the details, we might well find reason to support the school in the effort to discourage certain things.

Just because the child is innocent in all this does not change this in the slightest. Something similar happened with my eldest when he took his art project onto the school bus with him. The driver stopped the bus and called the police as required by school district policy, because even if it is used for an artistic purpose a knife is still a knife and should not be taken to school. We have every right to limit what is acceptable in certain public venues.


Am I only who sees police state mentality in thinking the best person to handle an art student is the police? Does no one see the paranoia? Richard M Brickner, M.D. in his 1943 book "Is Germany Incurable" explains paranoia as an excessive need to superior and in control. When did we decide the police are the best people to deal with our children? When did we decide just carrying a knive, something many men and young boys once did, is now a crime? Don't you see this as paranoia and police state mentality that is the extreme opposite of the liberty we had? We have had principles calling the police to deal with 5 year boys who kiss a girl on the playground. What is extreme? Is this where we should start pushing back against the police state, or do we wait until a minority is being put in concentration camps?

Only highly moral people can have liberty and this thread is important, not just because it is something nice people should talk about, but because we need to understand the consequences of not having shared morality is a police state. It is fearing innocent children and calling the police to take control. It is authority over the people, streamlined courtroom decisions by taking the decision-making powers away form the judge. If we can not even trust a judge to have good judgment, who can we trust? Please stop and think about this. We had education for good moral judgment and we our liberty meant the freedom to think for ourselves and act on our own judgment. We didn't call the police to manage situations with our children but relied on the judgment of the adult in charge. If you are okay with the police hauling away your children, where does this reliance on the police stop, with the Jews? Perhaps we should return to education for an ethical society that does not rely on the police? Can't anyone see what has gone wrong?
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby mitchellmckain on June 7th, 2017, 10:31 pm 

Athena » June 7th, 2017, 9:14 am wrote:
mitchellmckain » June 6th, 2017, 8:31 am wrote:I am going to have to reserve judgement because Althea's example is too vague and abstract. We have no reason to accept her interpretation of events and her considerations of what are the salient issues. It is quite possible that upon seeing the whole story with all the details, we might well find reason to support the school in the effort to discourage certain things.

Just because the child is innocent in all this does not change this in the slightest. Something similar happened with my eldest when he took his art project onto the school bus with him. The driver stopped the bus and called the police as required by school district policy, because even if it is used for an artistic purpose a knife is still a knife and should not be taken to school. We have every right to limit what is acceptable in certain public venues.


Am I only who sees police state mentality in thinking the best person to handle an art student is the police? Does no one see the paranoia? Richard M Brickner, M.D. in his 1943 book "Is Germany Incurable" explains paranoia as an excessive need to superior and in control. When did we decide the police are the best people to deal with our children? When did we decide just carrying a knive, something many men and young boys once did, is now a crime?

Nobody said anything about my son being charged with a crime. The police were called because a weapon was involved - it makes a little sense. I can quite imagine that teachers and even bus drivers don't want to have the task of taking weapons from students. I suppose you can say it sets a tone about how serious this is considered. I think most parents would approve because they don't want other children carrying any kind of weapons in school.

Athena » June 7th, 2017, 9:14 am wrote: Don't you see this as paranoia and police state mentality that is the extreme opposite of the liberty we had? We have had principles calling the police to deal with 5 year boys who kiss a girl on the playground. What is extreme? Is this where we should start pushing back against the police state, or do we wait until a minority is being put in concentration camps?

Would you call the precautions we now take at airports paranoia. They wouldn't allow you to even bring scissors or many tools in your carry-on luggage, and you cannot have lighter (or aerisols or spray paint) even in your checked luggage. This is simply a consequence of events like 9-11 and Columbine. We take what precautions we can to avoid these things happening again.

Does this represent a reduction of our liberty? Yes. But some liberties SHOULD be taken away. There are all kinds of things which are now prohibited because they recklessly endanger human lives. In building, in driving, in flying airplanes, in handling all kinds of materials, etc... we no longer have the freedoms we once did because of the disasters such things have cause many times with many losses of human life. The fact is that we had to fight for those changes against indifference, because too many people just didn't care about the fact they were endangering people's lives!
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby Braininvat on June 7th, 2017, 11:48 pm 

Yep. Not every curtailment of total freedom is a slippery slope to Kristallnacht. In the U.S. we have amended our Constitution 27 times, due to changes in society and the way certain liberties are abused. I don't feel that my freedom is all that cramped by not getting to walk around with an assault rifle or carry scissors on an airplane or not carry fresh fruit across the California border. The time to worry is when freedom to speak one's mind is compromised or the freedom to stroll through any neighborhood while in possession of dark skin or the freedom to choose your personal lifestyle. People have been managing to make a lot of noise about those freedoms the last few decades, and I think there's hope that our Constitution will remain a living document.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby Athena on June 8th, 2017, 10:37 am 

mitchellmckain » June 7th, 2017, 8:31 pm wrote:
Nobody said anything about my son being charged with a crime. The police were called because a weapon was involved - it makes a little sense. I can quite imagine that teachers and even bus drivers don't want to have the task of taking weapons from students. I suppose you can say it sets a tone about how serious this is considered. I think most parents would approve because they don't want other children carrying any kind of weapons in school.


I do not want to offend you nor hijack this thread. I will just say my parents experienced the second world war and the talk around our dinner table was the wrong of forcing people to carry and show identification, and the police state. I have read old books about Germany trying to understand what happened. Obviously, I come to this discussion with a very different point of view.

What I see with the information I have, we are on the same path Germany traveled and this is what we defended our democracy against. Because most people would agree with you, for me the question of why Hitler was not stopped is obvious. They were accepting of the police state and obedience to authority, and now we are too. Our past defense began in the classroom with education for American ethics and good moral judgment, and textbooks explaining why we must defend our democracy against Germany. Laugh, my grandmother would not tolerate the school principle interfering with her class. I don't think you know the democracy we defended.

Not that long ago, the police could do nothing until a crime had already been committed. I have a different reality in my head and the notion that we educated children and fought world wars to protect that reality.

Would you call the precautions we now take at airports paranoia?


Yes, I don't think the possibility of having a nut case on an airplane is so different from other risks of flying. However, I would also say the change we experience today is justified by the change in bureaucratic order and education. We are on the path Germany followed and the masses are completely clueless, because as the Germans before us, people only know the good reasons for these changes, not the arguments against them and not the history of Germany leading up to the world wars. The people today do not know what the Prussians did to Germany and that the same has been done to the US.

They wouldn't allow you to even bring scissors or many tools in your carry-on luggage, and you cannot have lighter (or aerisols or spray paint) even in your checked luggage. This is simply a consequence of events like 9-11 and Columbine. We take what precautions we can to avoid these things happening again.


That is paranoia. Can you imagine a possible different reality?

Does this represent a reduction of our liberty? Yes. But some liberties SHOULD be taken away. There are all kinds of things which are now prohibited because they recklessly endanger human lives. In building, in driving, in flying airplanes, in handling all kinds of materials, etc... we no longer have the freedoms we once did because of the disasters such things have cause many times with many losses of human life. The fact is that we had to fight for those changes against indifference, because too many people just didn't care about the fact they were endangering people's lives!


Do you feel safe now, or is your judgment based on fear of what will happen? I remember my father explaining why we regulate boilers. The metal and seam of boilers must be right or they explode. Knowledge of this is important to good judgment and I can not imagine a bad consequence to acting on this knowledge. Stopping and frisking black people might also make sense in some neighborhoods, but there are possible bad consequences to this. There certainly are bad consequences to ending education for good moral judgment and leaving moral training to the church.

Should we attempt to regulate people the same as an attempt to regulate matter? Might there be an objection to being a mechanic society?
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby Athena on June 8th, 2017, 11:15 am 

Braininvat » June 7th, 2017, 9:48 pm wrote:Yep. Not every curtailment of total freedom is a slippery slope to Kristallnacht. In the U.S. we have amended our Constitution 27 times, due to changes in society and the way certain liberties are abused. I don't feel that my freedom is all that cramped by not getting to walk around with an assault rifle or carry scissors on an airplane or not carry fresh fruit across the California border. The time to worry is when freedom to speak one's mind is compromised or the freedom to stroll through any neighborhood while in possession of dark skin or the freedom to choose your personal lifestyle. People have been managing to make a lot of noise about those freedoms the last few decades, and I think there's hope that our Constitution will remain a living document.


Gaurrented liberties will be abused when there is zero understanding of what good moral judgment has to do with liberty. When people react to the word "moral" as though morals are the enemy of the liberty, we are in trouble. When people have a bad reaction to "only moral people can have liberty" we are on the path to a police state, because they lack an important understanding of the concepts.

Neither did the Germans think their freedom was cramped when the Prussians took control of Germany. They were most good Christians, taught to be obedient and trusting God would take good care of them. They were congenial, dreamy, artistic people, not wanting war nor the unpleasantness of political challenges, and following the 30 Years War that devastated Germany, they were glad to turn things over to the Prussians. Just as we are glad to be on the path to a technological society, and leave politics to those we elect to take care of things for us.

Our freedom to speak is compromised. How many public hearings have you attended? Do you think 3 minutes is enough time to discuss complex concepts? How many times have you had lunch with a representative and discussed your political concerns? Do you think those who represent you, represent you as well they represent corporate interest? How well are your letters to representatives answered? What do good manners have to do with our freedom of speech and political power?

Germany was a Christian Republic. How do you think the US was/is different from that?

What is the best way to defend our liberty and justice? Let us get closer to the topic. Was there something different about the ethics of Germany and the ethics of the US?
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby mitchellmckain on June 8th, 2017, 1:04 pm 

I don't share Athena's naive faith in education as a solution to all problems. It fails to understand human nature which demonstrates a strong tendency to ignore what we know is right and to do things we know are bad for us regardless. Thus people still smoke and drink even when it kills them.

Furthermore, I think in practice such "education for good moral values" far far too easily becomes an excuse for people using the schools as a missionary platform to push their religion on other people. Any parent who lives in a place with a dominant religion would know this, because they see teachers constantly using even the slightest excuse to do this. And too too often this religious crap is down right sick and perverted and nothing you want to have pushed on your children.

MAYBE one day this will be different. Maybe one day we will have some kind of scientific basis for "moral behavior". And maybe one day people will not raise a stink to holy hell about Satan taking over our schools with godless science and that kind of BS. But that day is not today. Maybe even one day we can have a religion class in public schools which can go through all the world religions and look at them objectively to discuss the possible problems and dangers involved -- I am all for it! But that day is not today.
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