Questions about Ethics

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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16 July 2017 00:29
 

In each case I will give my own provisional answer in the most concise form that I can. I’m interested in your answers and any explanation you care to provide especially if you have detailed reasons for disagreeing with me. 


1. Is there an important distinction between ‘Ethics’ and ‘The study of Ethics’ ? Yes.

2. Is your primary consideration of ethics more speculative or more retrospective? Which takes priority; future or past? My answer is future.

3. Do you use the terms ‘Ethics’ and ‘Morals’ interchangeably? No.

4. Would you say that your consideration of ethical issues most commonly moves from the general to the specific or vice versa? For me it is the former.

5. Do you describe yourself as realist or anti-realist? Or something else? I am an anti realist.

6. Do you typically hold to a single, stable definition of ethics or are multiple definitions employed in the context of a single dialogue? I try to hold to one definition.

7. Are the satisfaction conditions of ethical theories necessarily convergent? In other words is there such thing as a greater good? No

8. Is the study of ethics fundamentally rational? No.

9. Is the study of ethics uniquely unique? Yes.

10. Do you experience something like dread or religious terror or angst when reflecting quietly on large questions? I do.

Thank You

 
Ground
 
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Ground
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16 July 2017 08:19
 

Hi

1. Is there an important distinction between ‘Ethics’ and ‘The study of Ethics’ ? A common sense distinction in that ‘Ethics’  and ‘The study of Ethics’ are different objects.

2. Is your primary consideration of ethics more speculative or more retrospective? Which takes priority; future or past? I do not rely on ethics but on reason.

3. Do you use the terms ‘Ethics’ and ‘Morals’ interchangeably? yes, because both are based on belief.

4. Would you say that your consideration of ethical issues most commonly moves from the general to the specific or vice versa? Reasoning necessarily is about generalities. Inferences can be applied to the particular.

5. Do you describe yourself as realist or anti-realist? Or something else? Too many categories of realism. I am not a naive realist since conventional reality is subject to rational analysis.

6. Do you typically hold to a single, stable definition of ethics or are multiple definitions employed in the context of a single dialogue? . I’ll take Wikis: ‘Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct.’

7. Are the satisfaction conditions of ethical theories necessarily convergent? In other words is there such thing as a greater good? No. Agreed.

8. Is the study of ethics fundamentally rational? No. Agreed.

9. Is the study of ethics uniquely unique? ??

10. Do you experience something like dread or religious terror or angst when reflecting quietly on large questions? No.


Regards

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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16 July 2017 08:49
 

Thank you. To clarify #9 what I mean by uniquely unique is that ethics is distinguished from other subjects of learning. Lets pick a nominal set of physics, chemistry and biology along with their respective specialties. These are unique subjects but they are also unified, I think by a certain parsimony and surrender the proportions of nature. They have a similar value structure and are essentially nested within one another. I think we make similar examples with social science, aesthetics and other endeavors.

Ethics, by contrast tries to locate propositions along multiple axes in a manner that makes it not part of any other set. It is not simply unique but uniquely unique. I hope that makes sense.

 
Ground
 
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Ground
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17 July 2017 00:52
 
Brick Bungalow - 16 July 2017 08:49 AM

Thank you. To clarify #9 what I mean by uniquely unique is that ethics is distinguished from other subjects of learning. Lets pick a nominal set of physics, chemistry and biology along with their respective specialties. These are unique subjects but they are also unified, I think by a certain parsimony and surrender the proportions of nature. They have a similar value structure and are essentially nested within one another. I think we make similar examples with social science, aesthetics and other endeavors.

Ethics, by contrast tries to locate propositions along multiple axes in a manner that makes it not part of any other set. It is not simply unique but uniquely unique. I hope that makes sense.

Interesting view. I would say that physics, chemistry and biology are related in being natural sciences. But I would associate Ethics with ‘social science, aesthetics’ under ‘human sciences’. So I would answer question 9 in the negative.

 
sortof-jeffm
 
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sortof-jeffm
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17 July 2017 18:32
 
Brick Bungalow - 16 July 2017 12:29 AM

In each case I will give my own provisional answer in the most concise form that I can. I’m interested in your answers and any explanation you care to provide especially if you have detailed reasons for disagreeing with me. 


1. Is there an important distinction between ‘Ethics’ and ‘The study of Ethics’ ? Yes.

Yes.  Studying a thing is not the thing, for sure.

Brick Bungalow - 16 July 2017 12:29 AM

2. Is your primary consideration of ethics more speculative or more retrospective? Which takes priority; future or past? My answer is future.

 

I suppose it depends on whether one is evaluating a past action or a possible future action. Both have worth, I think.

Brick Bungalow - 16 July 2017 12:29 AM

3. Do you use the terms ‘Ethics’ and ‘Morals’ interchangeably? No.

 

Sometimes.

I mostly use the term ‘Ethics’ in relation to some profession, since that is how ethics seems to be most commonly understood in society.  I feel most comfortable using the term in the wide sense, where it would matter more what professional hat some theoretical person is wearing than who person X and person Y actually are.

In my view, morality has overlap with ethics, mainly in the wide moral sense.  But when considering the personal moral sense, the word ‘ethical’ does not have the same ring as the word ‘moral’ for me.

I think alot of objective moral theory was couched as ethics back in Sidgwick’s day, since the theorist would run into some serious doo-doo with the Church if they used the term moral theory.

Brick Bungalow - 16 July 2017 12:29 AM

4. Would you say that your consideration of ethical issues most commonly moves from the general to the specific or vice versa? For me it is the former.

 

Former.  You have general goals, and then implementation specifics?

Brick Bungalow - 16 July 2017 12:29 AM

5. Do you describe yourself as realist or anti-realist? Or something else? I am an anti realist.

 

I believe that some truths are irreducibly normative.  Does that make me an anti-realist?  I think so, but I haven’t looked into it.

Brick Bungalow - 16 July 2017 12:29 AM

6. Do you typically hold to a single, stable definition of ethics or are multiple definitions employed in the context of a single dialogue? I try to hold to one definition.

 

I’m not sure what you mean.  What is your stable definition?

Brick Bungalow - 16 July 2017 12:29 AM

7. Are the satisfaction conditions of ethical theories necessarily convergent? In other words is there such thing as a greater good? No

 

Yes, hopefully, eventually.

Brick Bungalow - 16 July 2017 12:29 AM

8. Is the study of ethics fundamentally rational? No.

 

The goal of ethics seem to try to apply rational thought to human behavior.  Does that make ethics fundamentally rational?  I seems arguable, as long as we don’t pretend we did not make up a lot of the goals.

Brick Bungalow - 16 July 2017 12:29 AM

9. Is the study of ethics uniquely unique? Yes.

 

I’m running out of steam smile

Brick Bungalow - 16 July 2017 12:29 AM

10. Do you experience something like dread or religious terror or angst when reflecting quietly on large questions? I do.


It usually depends on my internal state at the time.

 

[ Edited: 21 July 2017 21:36 by sortof-jeffm]
 
Kalessin
 
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Kalessin
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21 July 2017 16:26
 

There was something unsettling about these questions (they hint at a behavioural psychology exercise), but I’m game ...

1. Is there an important distinction between ‘Ethics’ and ‘The study of Ethics’ ?
I think this is always the case, no?  You could replace “Ethics” in that sentence and it would still be yes - eg. “Is there an important distinction between Motorbikes / Medicine / Algebra / Love / Beethoven and The Study of Motobikes / Medicine etc. etc.”

2. Is your primary consideration of ethics more speculative or more retrospective? Which takes priority; future or past?
This is another where the adjectives are not quite comparable, or at least could be more precise - speculative is not inherently temporal.  I can’t really see how anything takes priority, it depends on the focus of ones thinking at the time.

3. Do you use the terms ‘Ethics’ and ‘Morals’ interchangeably?
In day to day conversation it’s quite probable that I do, which is basically just casual (or lazy) use of language.  This question has prompted me to work harder at retaining the distinction between rules of behaviour (ethics) and principles of right and wrong (morals) as a shorthand.  However the separation is only technical given that ethics typically (or perhaps necessarily) arise from moral foundations, and any morality would tend to (or perhaps necessarily) engender an associated ethical code.

4. Would you say that your consideration of ethical issues most commonly moves from the general to the specific or vice versa?
This could just be how I, or anyone, talks about things - do we like to use metaphors or analogies, or do we feel more comfortable with logical reasoning structures using concepts or algebra; do we habitually talk from our experience or attempt to start from a neutral position? etc. etc.  So I am probably slightly more abstract in my conversational style, which might make the ‘general’ a more regular starting point.

5. Do you describe yourself as realist or anti-realist? Or something else?
All these terms, or others such as rationalist/materialist/idealist and so on, have many connotations and ambiguities.  It probably depends on who I’m talking to (and whether it’s actually necessary or appropriate to ‘describe myself’ at all).  If pushed I make slightly qualified statements like “I am more or less an atheist these days”, or “I am pretty much a skeptic by default”.

6. Do you typically hold to a single, stable definition of ethics or are multiple definitions employed in the context of a single dialogue?
In some conversations a carefully agreed definition of terms is necessary, in others there is room to go with the flow.  It all depends!

7. Are the satisfaction conditions of ethical theories necessarily convergent? In other words is there such thing as a greater good?
Conceptually ‘a greater good’ would also need defining and I can see lots of holes in any such concept, so I would probably go for something like ‘viable consensus’  or ‘working theory’ if I was looking to ground an overview somewhere specific.  I guess that means no.

8. Is the study of ethics fundamentally rational?
I would have assumed the study of anything at least involves rational thought?

9. Is the study of ethics uniquely unique?
I’m not sure anything is unique or uniquely unique outside of a temporary context within a conversation.  I suppose you can say that where we have one example of something definitive, it is unique, such as a single verified fossil that shows a particular evolutionary chain, but I think words like this are always conversational rather than logical.

10. Do you experience something like dread or religious terror or angst when reflecting quietly on large questions? I
I think I experience significantly more angst on more superficial things, or indeed things with more mundane but meaningful day-to-day implications.

I hope this is useful for your research smile

[ Edited: 21 July 2017 16:31 by Kalessin]
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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24 July 2017 15:57
 

I do appreciate the replies. In response to one concern: I am not attempting to psycho analyze anyone. I’m genuinely curious about peoples conceptual understanding and take all replies purely at face value. The questions are chosen for their relevance to issues I’m currently on the fence about and want to understand better.

 
NL.
 
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NL.
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24 July 2017 22:10
 

1. Is there an important distinction between ‘Ethics’ and ‘The study of Ethics’ ? Not really. I think it’s like asking if there’s an important distinction between learning the technicalities of producing notes on a violin, and playing a song. You could parse those parts of the process but I see no functional reason to.

2. Is your primary consideration of ethics more speculative or more retrospective? Which takes priority; future or past? I’d say they are equally important. The only form of empiricism we have in studying ethics is in looking at the lived laboratory of the past; the only reason we have to care about such things is the future.

3. Do you use the terms ‘Ethics’ and ‘Morals’ interchangeably? To an extent, although I feel they have different flavors. Ethics, colloquially, seems more manmade, morals, more universal.

4. Would you say that your consideration of ethical issues most commonly moves from the general to the specific or vice versa? I generally think in gestalts, so for the most part, yes. That said, there is hardly any reason to care about ethics from a totally removed “computer program looking at the world” esque point of view, so I think in this case, more so than others, I tend to form big picture ideas from collections of personal vignettes, both from my life and from art, literature, etc. Ethics can only really be grounded in the rationale that subjectivity matters and subjectivity must be experienced in the first person. (I find the ethical lessons embedded in fiction for children particularly interesting. Most of my favorite moralistic children’s books - The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, The Little Prince, The Water Babies, At The Back of the North Wind, and so on, most certainly contained Western Reformation ideas about the nobility of individual character development. I find myself wondering now if these are simply classic archetypes, recognized at a deep level by the human mind, or if they could have been framed differently. Could Sara Crewe, rather than testing the mettle of her ideals against newly harsh and changed circumstances, have shown a humble collectivist submission to the new role society had assigned her? Would this have been a tragic ending in any human culture, or only ours? The arts are a tricky field, I think, in that they can ‘cheat’ a bit in a way that real life can’t, shaping characters into wholly sympathetic or unsympathetic caricatures.)

5. Do you describe yourself as realist or anti-realist? Or something else? Middle path, as always. Subjectivity is dream like, but so long as the dream is real, it’s consequential.

6. Do you typically hold to a single, stable definition of ethics or are multiple definitions employed in the context of a single dialogue? I think it’s so context dependent that you simply have to lay a conversational framework and agree on various parameters for each individual dialogue on the topic.

7. Are the satisfaction conditions of ethical theories necessarily convergent? In other words is there such thing as a greater good? Yes

8. Is the study of ethics fundamentally rational? So long as you’re sentient, yes.

9. Is the study of ethics uniquely unique? Ish.

10. Do you experience something like dread or religious terror or angst when reflecting quietly on large questions? What is thus far fundamentally irresolvable for me is the problem of suffering. This is usually framed as a religious question (How could God allow it,) but even in a secular sense, trying to talk about ethics in the framework of a universe that allows for the most hideous kinds of agony and suffering - on a routine basis - feels a bit like spitting into the ocean. This is why, for me, ethics is important but secondary to spiritual pursuits (or ‘mind training’, for those who prefer such terminology.)

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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26 July 2017 09:36
 

Thanks to all who respond. To give some further context for my motivation our group is currently reviewing some graduate student work on the phenomenology of ethics. This sprawls from Heidegger to Levinas and back to Aristotle. The idea is to understand how moral prescriptions might be grounded in a hierarchy that begins with raw sense data. Perhaps moral goods have a necessarily associated qualia. If it can be argued that things like colors and odors have a hierarchy that extends through context, concept and sense data perhaps moral experience has a similar structure.

Right now I’m not sold on the idea. Its a pretty ambitious case to make but its an interesting project.

 
Giulio
 
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Giulio
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19 August 2017 14:52
 
Brick Bungalow - 26 July 2017 09:36 AM

Perhaps moral goods have a necessarily associated qualia. If it can be argued that things like colors and odors have a hierarchy that extends through context, concept and sense data perhaps moral experience has a similar structure.

Interesting.

There is something that it’s like to feel you are doing good, or not. Justice, injustice, guilt, self-sacrifice, ... all have their own qualitative feels. But they presumably are also very much influenced if not in some ways manufactured by our up-bringing. (Thinking about your tenth question, Dostoevsky obviously came to mind.)

Are there any ‘primary colours’ for ethics?

Tough question. Where does compassion (both in terms of ‘acts of compassion’ as a phenomenon, as well as ‘something that it’s like to feel compassionate’) sit for you in terms of ethics?