Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
Perhaps none of the participants in this thread really disagree.
Let me see if I can summarise:
Individuals and societies have arrived at ethical beliefs
for a reason, whether that be evolution, what their parents
taught them, or what it says in a book believed to be divinely
inspired. Perhaps all of these reasons can be subsumed under
"evolution" if that term can be extended beyond genetics to
include all the ideas, beliefs, customs etc. that help a
society to survive and propagate itself. Now, we can take
this and formalise it in some way so that we can discuss
ethical questions rationally:
Murder is bad because it reduces the net happiness
in society - Utilitarianism
Murder is bed because it breaks the sixth commandment
- Judaism and Christianity (interesting that this only
no. 6 on a list of 10: God [intuitive people] knows his
[know their] priorities)
Ethics then becomes objective, given the rules. The
meta-ethical explanation of evolution, broadly understood,
as generating the various ethical systems is also objective.
However, it is possible for someone at the bottom of the
heap to go over the head of utilitarianism, evolution, even
God and say:
"Why should murder be bad? I don't care about the greatest
good for the greatest number, I don't care if the species
dies out, and I think God is a bastard and will shout it
from hell if sends me there for killing people for fun and
profit. This is my own personal ethical belief, and you can't
tell me I'm wrong!
And the psychopath is right: no-one can actually fault him
on a point of fact or a point of logic. In the *final* analysis,
ethical beliefs are not a matter of fact or logic, and if it seems
that they are then there is a hidden assumption somewhere.
A bit convoluted and somewhat embellished, but essentially: correct.
And violence need not be the standard for an ethic leading to
problematic results. The 19th century Christian sect Shakers
abhord reproduction & proseletyzing. They were non-violent
devout prayer based people, but their 'ethic' led to their own
As impartial evaluators, it is sometimes difficult for us
to unemotionally unbiasedly categeorize human dynamics.
There are in any given human millieu a -variety- of
parameter which have actionable behaviors that can
be categorized beneficial/unbeneficial, preferrable/
unpreferrable, good/bad, constructive/destructive,
Any one parameter, or group of parameters can become the
'situational standard bearer' and other parameters fall
where they may. We value 'individuality' but some cultures
sacrifice individuals for the security of the collective.
Different cultures will resist sacrificing until deemed
absolutely necessary. Others have a lesser requirment;
may even proactively sacrifice for strategic motivations.
And the 'positive' motivation is labelled 'altruism' -
sacrifice in the promotion of and alternative (sic-'greater')
benefit. An 'evil' of one parameter re-cast as a 'good'
Killers -do- have a rationale and 'logic' they function
under. And it can be 'objectively correct'. IF -- if and
only if - the parameters' assumptions/decisions are accepted
as utile, correct, tenable.
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