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?

Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby Athena on July 6th, 2017, 2:35 pm 

Does this work?

Is it reasonable to believe you can save the child?

Are you prepared to rescue someone from a fire? Do you know if you do the wrong thing, such as open a door, you can be the cause of someone dying? This is a test of your will to save someone from a fire. Begin by getting informed. If you do not determine to be well informed, your commitment to saving someone is low.

http://www.fireengineering.com/articles ... enemy.html

How physically fit are you? Do you intentionally exercise to be in top physical condition? Seriously, again this a test of how committed you are to saving someone. Do you physically prepare yourself? If not then your commit is low.

After you have done all you can do to be prepared to save someone, at the moment of emergency, using your knowledge, is it reasonable to assume you can save the child?

Do you have any other commitments, such as a family to support? Might this go into your decision of if you risk your life or not? I think it should. The outcome of any decision you make will affect everyone in your life. Isn't this also part of an ethical decision?
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby BadgerJelly on July 6th, 2017, 3:46 pm 

I guess you're getting the idea of what I mean. The point is not to say what anyone else should do to be prepared. The question is simply to ask yourself in this situation I would like to help? If so what would stop me, what would I weigh against it and where would I find the line between helping or not helping become blurred?

If you go deeper you can ask questions you would probably never feel like declaring in public, say there are two children a boy and a girl. You can only save one? You may then try and avoid the dilemma by saying "I would save the closest one", then you can say they are both equally in reach ... you will no doubt find yourself looking for a way out of making a conscious decision or maybe not? They may differ in age, race, intelligence, beauty, etc . These are not really thoughts we wish to openly express our choices about, and probably not ones we can justify to ourselves either.

It is for this reason I am openly avoiding any recourse to public debate about the "best" choice. The "best" choice spoken out is undoubtedly a choice framed in view of public opinion.

We can justify anything we wish with any reason. Most often we will fall prey to avoiding responsibility and relying on critical choice. By that I mean the choice over saving the boy or the girl is in every way impossible to reasonably justify, yet I do know what I would likely do in the situation.

The most difficult hypothetical ethical questions we can pose don't need to be omitted to the public domain. Only we as indivduals can come to terms with our thoughts about them on our own. To step into the community is to step into a world of less individual responsibility and to hide our true emotions.

The faults I see with my view are basically akin to the criticism of Virtue Ethics. My view is purposefully relativistic and vague. Maybe what I am saying is what was meant originally by the ancient Greeks? I am not sure because I have not read them extensively?

I generally opposed to the idea of some ethical system being placed in education. I don't think ethics can be taught (look at the religious claim on those grounds over the course of human history).

I have found a very strange place where when I dig deep enough the question becomes comparible to sitting on a green chair or on a blue chair, a leather chair or a plastic chair. Meaning I come to see that a lot of the choices I make are more about reflection after the event rather than the decision.

If I can save person A or person B I will inevitably have to deal with the joy of saving one and the remorse of not saving the other. The trick is to understand the importance of both the elation and the depression rather than dwelling in either. Many times we get caught up in the judgements of others and what others call "ethical" or "unethical" behavior.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby Athena on July 6th, 2017, 9:32 pm 

Wait a minute, how prepared are you to save anyone? I think the Greeks would want to know. In their day, that emergency could be an invading army. In the past, physical ability was very important. Today we don't even get what physical fitness has to do contemplating rescuing someone from a burning building. That is a bit alarming.

Can we talk about liberal education and the reason for physical education classes?

Did you check out the link and learn about fires so if you are in that situation you will know what to do and what not to do? How meaningful is it to come to the decision that we should run into burning buildings to save a child if we do not back up this decision by preparing ourselves for such a moment?
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby BadgerJelly on July 7th, 2017, 2:58 am 

Athena » July 7th, 2017, 9:32 am wrote:Wait a minute, how prepared are you to save anyone? I think the Greeks would want to know. In their day, that emergency could be an invading army. In the past, physical ability was very important. Today we don't even get what physical fitness has to do contemplating rescuing someone from a burning building. That is a bit alarming.

Can we talk about liberal education and the reason for physical education classes?

Did you check out the link and learn about fires so if you are in that situation you will know what to do and what not to do? How meaningful is it to come to the decision that we should run into burning buildings to save a child if we do not back up this decision by preparing ourselves for such a moment?


No, I didn't check the link. You keep missing the point and obsessing over what others expect from you and this particular scenario of the fire. The scenario is merely a vehicle.

It doesn't matter if we are talking about saving someone from a fire or helping a person in the brown suit cross the road instead of a person in the black suit.

I don't see you breaking out of this rut anytime soon. May be better if you come back to this thread in a couple of weeks a read it afresh?
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby BadgerJelly on August 24th, 2017, 2:11 pm 

Athena -

This may help you get a better grip of what I am trying to point out:

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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby edy420 on July 9th, 2018, 5:08 am 

I think choosing one way or the other, only gives you half the answer.

We most likely will choose what we think is the right answer, and explore that in the scenario.
As with the child who needs rescuing, we would like to think that we would become a hero and save the day.

I still think these ethical questions, are questions.
But we need to explore all outcomes.
In your example, the selfish person had to experience guilt to realise what they would do differently next time.
But if they had visualised the scenario before hand, and explored the idea of being selfish and guilty, then they may act the way they want to when it really does happen.
They experienced the guilt in a vision, rather than a reality, but it still has the same effect, they don’t want to feel that kind of guilt.

When throwing in the “ifs” and “buts” we tend to make the best decision also.
The less than ideal answers are not explored.

I feel like the solution you pose to this problem, is to have an answer?
But IMO the best bet is to explore all the possible answers.

One scenario I used to explore, a choking child.
This isn’t the best example of ethics, but it’s my own personal experience with realising that sometimes you need to explore more ideas than what is satisfactory.

In my mind, I would be a hero when a child was choking.
Pat their back, then try the heimlick, then if those failed I’d do what my Dad did to me which was hang me by my feet and whack me on the back with a solid blast.
A couple times I simply patted a choking child and they coffee it up.
Another time I got to hanging and whacking and it came flying out.
I’m a hero, relaxed and ready, smiling at all the people panicking and just doing my heroly duty.

Until one day my daughter was choking on a wine gum.
I patted her back calmly, tried the technique I learnt in first aid, before deciding it’s time to get serious.
I hung her from her feet and gave a big whack, but she just kept choking, so I tried a couple more times, and nothing.
So I went through all the techniques again and I saw her eyes begin to roll.
I lost all sense of calm.
I began running her to the Hospital until I got a few hundred meters and realised she’d be dead by time we got there so ran back home.
By now her lips were turning blue and I began to experience the most fear I had ever felt in my life.

I remembered first aiders saying not to stick your finger down to grab it out because it would push it further down, but I decided it’s worth a shot.
Turns out they were right, I pushed it down further.
At this point I said f this, grabbed her throat to stop the Lolly going down, shoved my finger down past the lolly and hooked it out.
I could have scratched her throat by how rough I was but it was my last idea before I watch her die.

My problem her was, I never considered going through the scenario, while panicked, in fear and losing my mind.
So when we do ask the ethical questions, they should be approached with different states of minds and also negative outcomes to any solution.
Only then can we act the way we want to.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby BadgerJelly on July 9th, 2018, 5:29 am 

Nice post.

My point was mostly about “performing”/“acting” as you deem fit in some given social situation. The appropriate behvaiour, or rather what is deemed appropriate by some given society, may not be the best behaviour.

In this sense when I ask you, or anyone else, an ethical question that person is forced to respond in light of how others judge them. This is why I was suggesting to answer mutely to ourselves without any consideration of answering the person who posed the question.

An extreme example in a room full of women discussing abortions you’re likely going to voice your views publicly much differently than you would privately to yourself or some other demographic. To peel ourselves away from such social pandering and judgement is a very difficult task to both face up to as existing and then to figure out how to deal with it.

This is what I meant about instilling a sense of doing what you believe to be right and acting it out rather than being pulled too far from what you believe to be the case (rightly or wrongly.) Of course knowledge and experience is a powerful tool to bring to play too.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby Braininvat on July 9th, 2018, 9:52 am 


An extreme example in a room full of women discussing abortions you’re likely going to voice your views publicly much differently than you would privately to yourself or some other demographic. To peel ourselves away from such social pandering and judgement is a very difficult task to both face up to as existing and then to figure out how to deal with it.



That example aroused my curiosity, because I don't see any difference in my views expressed in that setting. Why do you think you would express yourself "much differently? "

Am I just more blunt than your hypothesized average person?
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby BadgerJelly on July 9th, 2018, 10:57 am 

Biv -

I’m not a woman so being among people who can become pregnant and may have to make such decisions about their bodies, and thier lives in general, is only something I have a limited view on.

Because of this obviousness I would, imagine unconsciously, have my thoughts muddied by this difference and perhaps be skewed more one way tha another.

The general point being the social interaction while giving me advantages of exposure to other views in the moment doesn’t give me the space I would have to thrash out the problem internally and with more instill personal honesty. On the flipside women surrounded by men, or other women, may or may not be effected in different ways.

There was no “hypothesized average person” in what I said. It is precisely the idea of “average view”, or rather views influenced by what is expected as not “blunt” that we’re all open to.

To go more out on a fringe view, maybe I love watching people burn in fires and screaming. Now, if you were of that persuasion would you tell others you liked to watch people burn, or would your understanding of your likes and dislikes be any less real if buried and hidden not only from others but also yourself?

Do you see what I mean now?

Essentially this is the Jungian idea of the Shadow.

Does that make sense?
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby Braininvat on July 9th, 2018, 11:32 am 

Thanks. I do now see what you're getting at, which was getting more into the psychological aspects of public spaces with groups that we don't feel we belong to. I think your first example threw me a bit because, honestly, I would say in that group of women, "I support a woman's right to make her own medical decisions." Which is what I would say elsewhere, too. But yes, one's thoughts can be skewed by a particular feel for things. For example, if men were the gender that had wombs and had to be pregnant for nine months, my feeling is that no one EVER would have thought of outlawing abortion or making it difficult to obtain. Now, to take your point, that latter sentiment is something I would more likely thrash out internally, as you put it, before giving voice to it.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby BadgerJelly on July 9th, 2018, 12:07 pm 

Biv -

And what is more language is social, so through language our internal thoughts are never fully severed from social forms. The habit of rational thought is one where we’re artifically “voicing” our views internally and thus we cannot help sculpt our thoughts to fit the words to express them externally.

So we’re strung out between two dangerous poles. We want to express what we think to others, but by going through the process of doing so we have to drift away from what we think below the clothing of words.

So if given the choice to save a three year old or a well known generous millionaire no matter how obvious the moal choice is you may answer differently if you looked into the darker nature of yourself rather than justifying the “good” act - go all Crime and Punishmenf on yourself. The hypothetical in this sense in not, in my view, of great use to me if I publically express my purposefully socially shaped view in order not to offend or possibly look like a monster.

I brought up the abortion point merely as a reference to the other thread. In all subject matters there is an chasm of uncertainty. Generally though humans tend to keep way way way away from such abyssal chasms so as to make them seem like insignificant lines of uncertainty. The more black and white the world seems the easier it is to slide with comfort into morally justified thoughts.

Ironically it seems to me that the more ethical we claim to be the less ethical we are! Haha!
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby hyksos on July 11th, 2018, 6:05 pm 

So if given the choice to save a three year old or a well known generous millionaire no matter how obvious the moal choice is you may answer differently if you looked into the darker nature of yourself rather than justifying the “good” act - go all Crime and Punishmenf on yourself.

Ethicists would say you are looking at this moral problem through the lens of Act Utilitarianism.

(see more) https://www.iep.utm.edu/util-a-r/#H3

The hypothetical in this sense in not, in my view, of great use to me if I publically express my purposefully socially shaped view in order not to offend or possibly look like a monster.

First, I would say you have to be mature enough for ethics. You must not be afraid of ideas. If ideas hurt you, make you feel bad, make you cry, then you are not 'ready' for ethics.

You are not finding your Darker nature. Rather what you are doing is reframing the moral question in terms of a different ethical theory. In your comparison to "socially-shaped view" , you are beginning to frame the ethical dilemma in terms of Rule Utilitarianism (or perhaps Social Contract Theory).

Different ethical theories will often draw completely opposite conclusions on the same question. A person can conjure a bunch of provincial reasons for engaging in a one-off act X. But we might ask "What if everybody did X all the time?" and suddenly the world looks far worse than it was a minute ago.

"It is okay for me to kill this person, just once, right here. Right now. And here are my reasons."

But the act of killing cannot be universally willed all the time. This is where Kantian analysis would come in.
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Re: Ethics: Its use and meaning

Postby BadgerJelly on July 13th, 2018, 4:32 am 

Hyksos -

First, I would say you have to be mature enough for ethics. You must not be afraid of ideas. If ideas hurt you, make you feel bad, make you cry, then you are not 'ready' for ethics.


I don’t know. My point was merely that the “hypothetical” is more genuinely engaged with without the prospect of public exposure - but at the same time the very act of taking on a hypothetical posed by someone else sets you up in such a manner as to “reply” even if the reply is muted and never exhibited to others.

I was trying to point out the conflict of honesty within a group. Given that all hypotheticals are set up as if frmo another this is quite and intriguing point (at least for me.)

I would also argue, generally speaking, that if you’re not hurt, feeling bad, or crying you’re not ready for this at all. I was riling against the idea of ethics as a group project (especially when takign on hypothetical questions - under the guise of which many problems are posed.)

Maybe a lot of what I am talking about is like “Act Utilitarianism,” but at a glance it doesn’t appear to be the core of what I was talking about.

The whole “look like a monster” was badly phrased on my part. I was trying to express the extreme end of the spectrum for emphasis. Over all though this needn’t be anything other than a subtle and nuanced effect. Simply being in the roo with someone else when a question is posed will effect how you approach and deal with the question (for some the effect will be greater or lesser than others and effect the in numerous ways.)

Children in this respect tend to act out truthfully what they feel because they’ve not fully established the social norms of how they are “expected” to behave. What is the problem of the more mature person is to dig back underneath that necessarily established social conditioning and seeing if certain social taboos are against the individuals nature, and if so what to do about this in order to be true to oneself in the face of possible hostility.

Much like the law, I don’t simply adhere blindly to what others say I should and shouldn’t do. If it is illegal for me to steal food that doesn’t mean that I have to follow the rules or that they are the riht set of rules for all given circumstances. Yet the overly proud parent may allow their child to starve to death rather than steal food every week. Personally I would find it harder to forgive the cowardice of not acting rather than the illegal act - but of course such a hypothetical is one dimensional and myopic.

Which leads me onto the point of expanding the hypothetical beyond its immediate bounds and finding constrast and confliction with the developing hypothetical that causes tears to flow, upset, and general confusion. Better to face such difficulties in a make-believe setting first than be brutally buttressed up against one in real day-to-day life and having to learn on the fly how to equip yourself under such emotional stress.

And again, we sensibly prefer to view such abyssal chasms fro such a distance as to refer to them as little more than thin black lines that are easily traversed with little harm or damage. The truth is it is an illusion of ethics, a lazy emotional attachment to life that would make us naively assume such simplicity (but ironically without such simplification we’d get little done!)

I like to think of my view of things as possessing a necessary sprinkling of nihilism. If many people took on this view in a trivial manner they may well end up succumbing to nihilism fully? I don’t know?

Watch the foolhardy and see what makes them successful and what makes them fail, then see if muster the bravery to venture forth to. That is the essence of my view I guess. The hypothetical is a useful tool here for self exploration often misused to express publicly how righteous and just we are in our simulated actions and how willing we are to bend to social norms against our inner judgements (which we very likely buried the greater part of in our erly childhood development.)

To sum up further, I would say that if someone were to ask “what would you do if ...?” The most genuine reply should likely be “None of your f’in business! But thanks for the interesting question all the same.” Any other reply is merely a strong, or weak, pandering to social acceptance - as is my reply now hypocrite and fool that I am ;)
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