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Morality and Ethics

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It seems that you are arguing that ethics refers to what is "right" to do regarding social convention, which is not really important. I haven't heard of anyone who has ever used ethics to mean that unless they already labeled morality to be what is right regarding social convention as well. You'd be better off just making up a new word, since I see no reason to think that ethics is defined wrong.

Pick your favorite professional organizations. I looked at the American Physical Society, the American Geographers Association, the American Counseling Association, and several others. They usually have some short, bulleted list of Dos and Dont's, which they call a code of ethics. Generally, morality is taken to be personal (and subjective). Cheating on your wife is immoral; cheating your clients is unethical.

One exception from above is the American Counseling Association, whose code of conduct run 18 pages. They recognize the existence of ethical dilemmas.

None of these societies suggests a code of morals.

As for what ethics "means" or how morality is "defined" my point here is that this is ambiguous. We tend to use the words interchangeably and yet there are times when we do not, when we mean different things by them. That ambivalent ambiguity is the source of much confusion, and not just in this discussion.

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However, he has not shown that a sub-division is really required, rather than it being a case of multiplying concepts beyond what is required. After all, any science has principles that can be organized from more abstract to more particular.

Understanding the phenomenon of misconduct in scientific research should begin with positives, rather than with negatives. We worry about wrongdoing without defining what it means to do right. We post the Periodic Table in our classrooms and laboratories, but we do not display the “Guidelines for Professional Conduct” of the American Physical Society. Moreover, the APS webpage for that has links to the ethics statements of the American Chemical Society, American Mathematical Society, the Association for Computing Machinery and the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers. Those are all very short statements. The ethics code of the American Counseling Association runs 18 pages. On the other hand, a standard first year textbook for physics majors requires about 400 pages. But all physics problems come down to the conservation of energy. So, why not just teach physics as one page of important points and leave the rest to interpretation? Morality and ethics[6] in science should be at least a one semester class in solving problems, on par with any other science course, with three or four hours per week of engagement.

[6]I believe that I can prove that morality is an objective requirement of individual survival, e.g., the Greek idea of the good life, whereas ethics is conformance to social expectations, such as when on a city bus, a gentleman gives his seat to a woman. An example of an arguable ethic in science is the problem of whether and when to keep findings unreported versus your right to control your intellectual property or versus your obligation to protect others from immoral application of your work by third parties. This paper cannot address all of that, but those would be some of the lemmas and dilemmas in a 400-page Ethical Problems textbook.

From "Procedural Misconduct By Scientists: Prevention And Remedies," by Michael E. Marotta, in partial requirement for completion of Physics 406: Ethical Issues In Physics, Dr. Patrick L. Koehn,

Eastern Michigan University, Winter 2010.

Edited by Hermes
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And yet Ayn Rand said that alone on an island is when man needs morality most.


And yet we do commonly make that distinction, and ambiguously so, which is my point. We use the words interchangeably, except when we do not.

Ayn Rand didn't make the distinction, and neither do I.

It's completely useless.

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Personally, I believe that morality is the source of ethics. A behavior may be ethical or unethical depending on the social context.

How can morality - according to the Objectivist conception of it - provide any understanding of what you should in a social context? All that matters in a social context is that you do not violate rights. Taking anything more than that into consideration would be deciding the right course of action based on how someone else would like you to act. The distinction you are trying to make COULD make sense if you accept that you should balance selfless and self-interested actions, but since the only right actions are self-interested ones, you do not need to take into consideration what custom says you should do.

Edited by Eiuol
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