John Mikes writes:

Stathis,
 your 'augmentded' ethical maxim is excellent, I could add some more 'except 
foe'-s to it.
(lower class, cast, or wealth, - language, - gender, etc.)
The last par, however, is prone to a more serious remark of mine:
topics like you sampled are culture related prejudicial beief-items. Research 
cannot
solve them, because research is also ADJUSTED TO THE CULTURE  it serves.
A valid medeval research on the number of angels on a pin-tip would not hold in
today's belief-topic of curved space. (Curved angels?)
Merrrry Christmas to you, too
John

I think the culture-independence test is actually a good test for whether something truly is part of "science". How to build a nuclear bomb is culture-independent - it won't work if you decide to use U-328 just because there is more of it available where you live, for example. But whether and how to use the finished weapon is not a question that science can answer, although of course it is a question that scientists should ask and apply their own culture-
-dependent values to.

And a merry Christmas to you too, John

Stathis Papaionnou

On 12/21/06, Stathis Papaioannou < [EMAIL PROTECTED]<mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]>> 
wrote:
Peter Jones writes:
> > 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 knows his 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.
>
> The psychopath is wrong. He doesn't want to be murdered, but
> he wants to murder. His "ethical rule" is therefore inconsistent and
> not
> really ethical at all.
Who says his ethical rule is inconsistent? If he made the claim "do unto others 
as you would have
others do unto you" he would be inconsistent, but he makes no such claim. 
Billions of people have
lived and died in societies where it is perfectly ethical and acceptable to 
kill inferior races or inferior
species. If they accept some version of the edict you have just elevated to a 
self-evident truth it
would be "do unto others as you would have them do unto you, unless they are 
foreigners, or taste
good to eat, or worship different gods". Perfectly consistent, even if horrible.
> >  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.
>
> Everything starts with assumptions. The questions is whether they
> are correct.  A lunatic could try defining 2+2=5 as valid, but
> he will soon run into inconsistencies. That is why we reject
> 2+2=5. Ethical rules must apply to everybody as a matter of
> definition. Definitions supply correct assumptions.
So you think arguments about such matters as abortion, capital punishment and 
what sort of
social welfare system we should have are just like arguments about mathematics 
or geology,
and with enough research there should be universal agreement?
Stathis Papaioannou

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