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A Short Discussion On Ethics

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In discussing politics, you may have heard the word “morality” or more specifically “ethics” discussed. What you may not remember or know is how you exactly define these words. In our short discussion here we will used “morality” and “ethics” interchangeably since they essentially mean the same thing.

Ethics are actions, values or goals one chooses as guidance in decision making. Decisions are made every day from the simplest like choosing which ice cream flavor to consume today, to the more complex as in whom should I vote for, weather Alderman, Council Member, City Manager, Mayor, Governor or even President! Should I wave "hello" to my neighbor or ignore him all together.The array of important ethical choices in one’s life are almost limitless.

So how does one decide or make these choices such as those above?. Which one’s are more value to me than another? Do I choose to buy a shiny new Cadillac even though I know I can’t afford to do so or do I choose more modesty and buy a more affordable mode of transportation? Do I build a bridge with “lego blocks” or hardened steel? So the question has to be asked, does one choose one’s ethics by emotion, faith and/or reading tarot cards or do I instead use logical rational judgement. Do I turn off my mind and hope for the best (and hope no one gets killed in the process) or rely on specific specialized topographical knowledge and logic? The answer of the first sections “blanks out” the answer to the second.

All ethical choices reflects the inner characteristics (sometimes called epistemology) of the chooser. Show me a person’s choices and I will know what their ethics (value judgments) are so immediately. Try it yourself. You will be surprised how much you will learn about human nature in the very shortest time than you could ever believe. Ethics then, no matter how you look at it, defines codes of life one follows such as we said above, actions, values and goals by a standard chosen for oneself. Take the value (ethical choice ) of truth. If instead one lies consistently to gain an action, value or goal more simply (without applying much of themselves), then one not being honest (or ethical ) with oneself. Such actions can lead to disaster or worse. Such is with all ethical choices: integrity, honesty, independence, justice and other positive virtues. My point here is that the purpose of ethics is not to make life more difficult but to make life more enjoyable. The choice is yours!

Edited by Collectivist

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On 12/1/2017 at 6:56 PM, Collectivist said:

Ethics are actions, values or goals one chooses as guidance in decision making. Decisions are made every day from the simplest like choosing which ice cream flavor to consume today, to the more complex

 

I hold it that way too (comprising of simplest to more complex), but Objectivism does not. There is a delineation. Something to the effect that only "important" issues are part of the realm of ethics. (I tried to look for the passage in OPAR but failed to find it)

As in morality does not apply to how I brush my teeth. Although I would say there are immoral ways to brush my teeth like poking my eyes out with the brush.

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15 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

As in morality does not apply to how I brush my teeth. Although I would say there are immoral ways to brush my teeth like poking my eyes out with the brush.

The Objectivist Ethics will not tell you how to brush your teeth, as it deals with contextual universals.  But when you specialize those principles to the particular of your own life, they will direct even the most minute aspects of it. So, you will find no ethical principle telling you how to brush your teeth.  But you will find one that tells you to discover what the purpose is of brushing your teeth, another to tell you to discover which method of tooth brushing will best serve that purpose, and yet another to tell you to use that method, among other relevant ethical propositions..

So, yes, morality does apply to how you brush your teeth.

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12 hours ago, Invictus2017 said:

contextual universals

Where can I find the definition?

12 hours ago, Invictus2017 said:

So, yes, morality does apply to how you brush your teeth.

Does that mean that you are willing to say "Poking your eyes out with your toothbrush is immoral?"

Or more to the point, is it appropriate to say that? Based on Objectivist ethics?

My understanding is that it is inappropriate (perhaps due to my lack of understanding of what contextual universals means).

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15 hours ago, Easy Truth said:
On 6/13/2018 at 11:37 AM, Invictus2017 said:

contextual universals

Where can I find the definition?

I don't think this is explicitly defined, but see "contextually absolute". 

Probably the best way to describe it is to consider physics.  In physics, you have (simplifying a lot) the realm of the small, where you apply Quantum Mechanics, the realm of the large, where you apply General Relativity, and the everyday realm, where you apply Newtonian mechanics.  Each is a separate context, and propositions that are true in one are generally not true in another.  A given proposition of physics is "contextual" because it applies in a particular context, and "universal", because it is always true within that context.

In the Objectivist Ethics, there are only two "official" contexts, the ideal ethical context, and the emergency context.  Others are possible.  For example, there are situations where it is impracticable to live independently (like the present situation), which is inconsistent with some of the facts Rand relies on.  In such a situation, it is necessary to rethink certain parts of the ethics, and the result would be a different context, with different (contextually) universal propositions. (E.g., in the Objectivist Ethics, the answer to, "should you accept government-provided services such as roads", is an unqualified "no".  But in the real world, where you can't practicably choose to avoid improper government services, there is no simple answer. There needs to be, but unfortunately isn't, an Objectivist Ethics context for dealing with the real world.)

15 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Does that mean that you are willing to say "Poking your eyes out with your toothbrush is immoral?"

Or more to the point, is it appropriate to say that? Based on Objectivist ethics?

My understanding is that it is inappropriate (perhaps due to my lack of understanding of what contextual universals means).

"Poking your eyes out with a toothbrush is immoral" is not a proposition derivable from the Objectivist Ethics; there are outlandish situations where you might have to do so in order to save your life. But you could say, properly, "in the ordinary course of living, poking your eyes out with a toothbrush is immoral".  This would follow from the Objectivist Ethics, but would not be a part of it.  (Why not?  Ethics must generally limit itself to principles of broad applicability, and this is not such a principle.)

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16 hours ago, Invictus2017 said:

In the Objectivist Ethics, there are only two "official" contexts, the ideal ethical context, and the emergency context.  Others are possible.  For example, there are situations where it is impracticable to live independently (like the present situation), which is inconsistent with some of the facts Rand relies on.  In such a situation, it is necessary to rethink certain parts of the ethics, and the result would be a different context, with different (contextually) universal propositions. (E.g., in the Objectivist Ethics, the answer to, "should you accept government-provided services such as roads", is an unqualified "no".  But in the real world, where you can't practicably choose to avoid improper government services, there is no simple answer. There needs to be, but unfortunately isn't, an Objectivist Ethics context for dealing with the real world.)

Have you considered Rand's article "The Question of Scholarships"?

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2 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

Have you considered Rand's article "The Question of Scholarships"?

I read it a looong time ago and forgot about it, but I just reread it.  I agree with essentially all of it.

Anyway, there she discusses a third "official" context, that of living in a welfare state. But today, we really need to talk about living under tyranny, because that's what we now have.

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