Saturday, October 30, 2010

Why Ethics?

Why Ethics?

The field of ethics is a grand narrative thousands of years old. It is filled with every narrative genre, but it is essentially a love story about the kind of love that endures all circumstances. Many different kinds

Moral Truth Litmus

Moral Truth Litmus

This three-part Moral Truth Litmus tells us when a particular morality is artificial (70), when that morality fails any part of the litmus. If no theory passes all three parts of the litmus, there is no moral

A Natural Capacity for Discovering the Supernatural Standard

A Natural Capacity for Discovering the Supernatural Standard

We can use our litmus to rule out ethical theories which do not pass as truth—one of those theories being ethical naturalism. If we stop where naturalists stop, acknowledging the moral sense without acknowledging the unchanging truth sensed by the moral sense, we make moral truth (and the being to

Greek Virtue Theory

Gleaning through the Market Place of Competing Ethical Theories



How Should We Be? “Essentialist” Virtue

Classical (Greek) Virtue Theory

Greek virtue theory answers “How and why should we be or behave with the Other and self?” by emphasizing a virtuous (rational) character according to purpose that is built in to reality, considering conduct important in behaving according to the Golden Mean, and valuing the consequence of happiness. Virtue ethics consider character to be more basic than conduct, because, in Aristotle’s (384-322 B.C.) words, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a

Deontology

What Should We Do? Deontology

Intentionalism

“Peter Abelard (1079-1142) argued that an act is right if done with good intentions and wrong if done with evil intentions. … [However], clearly, bad intentions will make an act wrong, but good intentions will not necessarily make an act right. Intention is only one aspect of an ethical action. Another

Morality and Legal Justice

Morality and Legal Justice

The two opposing viewpoints of how morality and legal justice relate are naturalism (essentialism), and legal positivism (voluntarism, 70) (see L2). It seems naturalism and essentialism should be two separate categories (resulting in three categories, two of which are both voluntarism: naturalism and legal positivism), but Nina Rosenstand, author of my ethics text (4), lumps them together. Naturalism in

Utilitarianism

What Should Result? Consequentialism

The End Justifies the Means

One consequentialist theory that we can quickly rule out, because, like Greek virtue theory, it does not capture the “why” behind how we should be or behave with the Other and self (fails L1.3, 70), is Niccolo Machiavelli’s (1469-1527) thought that any means, including force and deceit, are justified by

Free to Be or Not to Be…

Free to Be or Not to Be…

Most of us do not ask if we have free will. We feel responsible for our choices, hold people responsible for their choices, and never give it much thought whether we or they are really free to choose. If we had to respond to the question of free will, we might respond with more questions: Why do we even use the word “intend” if we never freely intend anything? Why do we distinguish between

Existentialism

Virtue Revisited

The Virtue of Authenticity—Existentialism

In existentialism, “How and why should we be or behave with the Other and self?” is somewhat answered by emphasizing an authentic character (L1.2, L2), valuing that we take responsibility for our choices, and considering important the consequence of responsible freedom. The answer to the question isn’t as important as, to the essentialist, experiencing it as true, and to the voluntarist (70), creating it

Weeding out Egoism

Consequentialism Revisited

Weeding out Egoism

In egoism (individual utilitarianism), “How and why should we be or behave with the Other and self?” is answered by emphasizing good consequences (L1.1, L1.3) for the person taking the action, considering a selfish character to be important, and finding it important to act in one’s own self-interest. It is a reaction against the idea that selfless, self-sacrificial behavior indicates a virtuous character and

Weeding out Relativism

Conduct Revisited

Weeding out Relativism

Relativism answers “How and why should we be or behave with the Other and self?” by requiring that we respect (conduct, L1.1) and be (character, L1.2) tolerant of the norms of Other cultures, considering them equally as valid and beyond criticism as the norms of our own culture (L3), and so, by

The Sword and the Sacrifice Philosophy

The Sword and the Sacrifice Philosophy

1. Truth. Truth is that which corresponds to reality. Reality is that which “is”. A belief can only “always” be true, if that to which it corresponds “always” exists (is real) (69).
2. Justification. Any form of inquiry begins with a question, a guess (hypothesis). A justified belief is an answer/theory justified by evidence/reasons.
3. Justification=/=truth. Ought=/=is. (General truth.) A justified belief does not necessarily correspond to reality, is not necessarily true. We are all familiar with having found out that what we

Appendix A: Dialectics Glossary

Appendix A: Dialectics Glossary

The Scientific Method Dialectic

Thesis: Hypothesis.
Antithesis: Counter-Evidence.
Synthesis: (Revised) Theory.

Appendix B: The Four Horsemen and the Hunger

Appendix B: The Four Horsemen and the Hunger

The self-titled Four Horsemen are atheists Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens. They have some relevant things to say on ‘the hunger’ (57).

Sam Harris, “The End of Faith” (2004)—

“…there is little doubt that a certain range of human experience can be appropriately described as ‘spiritual’ or ‘mystical’—experiences of meaningfulness, selflessness, and heightened emotion that

Appendix C: The Logic of the Essentialism Dialectic

Appendix C: The Logic of the Essentialism Dialectic

The Essentialism Dialectic

Thesis: Moral truth (real ought) is created, or voluntarism (70).
Antithesis: There is no (discoverable) (71) moral truth (real ought), because that which is created is not discovered, or nihilism (or skepticism).
Synthesis: Moral truth (real ought) is discovered (71), or essentialism (14, 37).

H: that which satisfies our hunger (57) for true meaning
O: a construct to which we are obligated
T: moral truth

M: morality
C: created morality
D: discovered morality

Appendix D: Quiz: Are You an Essentialist or a Voluntarist?

Appendix D: Quiz: Are You an Essentialist or a Voluntarist?

This quiz is also found on Facebook. A link to it can be found in note 37.

Seven questions, followed by three possible outcomes:

Upon what should human (rights) laws be based?

*Humans should stop making baseless laws (at best, the base is impossible to know) and let nature take its course. (N/S)
*Human (rights) laws should reflect the fallible will of legislators, per culture, or reflect laws which are constructs of human evolution. (V)
*Human (rights) laws should reach across cultural boundaries and reflect discovered, essential moral standards. (E)

Appendix E: Glossary of Answered Criticisms of the Golden Rule

Appendix E: Glossary of Answered Criticisms of the Golden Rule

Most of these answered criticisms are found throughout this paper. Some are extra.

Objection 1. No-God objection: A) There is no God, or if there is, there is no evidence that s/he or it is love [in fact, B) all the evil in the world is actually evidence that he is evil, if not lacking omnipotence], therefore, there is no being strong enough to love perfectly, to which the Golden Rule may correspond—or, C) there does not need to be (we can be good without God). D) Is the good right because God wills it (does God create moral truth?), or does God will what is good because it is right (does God discover moral truth?) (Euthyphro Dilemma, and see L2)—either

Appendix F: Six Moral Realist Dialectics (Non-interchangeable)

Appendix F: Six Moral Realist Dialectics (Non-interchangeable)

These dialectics are put into one appendix for closer examination. They are related, but not interchangeable.

The Essentialism Dialectic

Thesis: Moral truth (real ought) is created, or voluntarism (70).
Antithesis: There is no (discoverable) (71) moral truth (real ought), because that which is created is not discovered, or nihilism (or skepticism).
Synthesis: Moral truth (real ought) is discovered (71), or essentialism (14, 37).

Appendix G: Synthesizing Golden Rule Variations and Competing Ethical Theories

Appendix G: Synthesizing Golden Rule Variations and Competing Ethical Theories

None of the competing theories in Ethics, only the Golden Rule, answers the Question aspect of the Moral Truth Litmus: Moral truth must describe the answer to “How and why should we be or behave with the Other and self?

(L1.1) The How and Why (Means and End) Dialectic

(See Objection 9 in Appendix E.)

Thesis: ‘Why’ (the internal end) is more important than ‘how’ (the external means) (consequentialist theories).
Antithesis: ‘How’ (the external means) is more important than ‘why’ (the internal end) (conduct theories).
Synthesis: A ‘how’ (means) without a ‘why’ (end) is pointless; a ‘why’ (end) without a ‘how’ (means) is impossible to apply [Golden Rule is both ‘why’ (love) and how—see Objection 16 in Appendix E on the GR being love].

References and Notes

References and Notes

Send any corrections to ichthus77@hotmail.com. Thankyou. Feel free to share this paper (in whole) with anyone you think would find reading it worthwhile.

TO DO

TO DO:

Version for kids

Discussion questions for each section (review old ethics homework for questions).

Choose a few common ethical dilemmas, which repeat in Ethics discussions, relevant to current events, and work them out at the end of each theory to show how each theory is incompatible with all the other theories, and only the Golden Rule is sufficient. Use Kiersey for characters, set it all up in introduction.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Philosophers' Carnival CXV


Philosophers' Carnival CXV

Welcome to the 115th edition of Philosopher’s Carnival, organized since August ‘04 by Richard Chappell. For those just discovering the Carnival, every few weeks or so many and various philosophy bloggers take turns submitting and hosting a collection of the latest relevant posts from around the blogosphere. An updated list of past host-blogs and the dates of their carnivals (searchable in the widget) can be found at the end of this one. My name is Maryann Spikes and I'll be your host for this "Moral Landscape" edition.