Ethically difficult questions.

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Deagels

Deagels

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I will ask two questions and answer one of them myself. You may answer questions posted, post one yourself or comment on other answers but please be respectful. Whether you choose to base your answer on logic, religion or even your gut sense is entirely up to you.

A common interpretation of important words is necessary if we are to understand each other.

Definitions
Ethics: A branch of Philosophy addressing questions of right and wrong regarding human actions.
Philosophy: The study of general and fundamental problems through logic and rational reasoning.
Morality: Personal or cultural values that distinguish between right and wrong in a limited frame of an individual, human society or social group.
Moral: A message conveying a single case of which a choice of morality is made. The point of a moral is for the assimilating party to take experience from it and adopt its suggestive behavioral patterns. It may be up to the individual to interpret, or it may be explicitly conveyed.

Introductory question: Society
Nature has a primordial system perhaps described best as “survival of the fittest”. For what reason do human societies promote ethical values that do not advocate such a system?

1st question: Life & Death
Many ethical questions addresses placing a distinct border on a gradient surface. You must choose between sacrificing a life to save another or let both go to waste. Consider the given candidates totally alike apart from what information is provided and what is obvious from the info.
1. Candidate A is a bug. Candidate B is a human being. (Both is assumed to be abundant or common).
2. A is a celebrity zoo animal. B is a lonely human. (this is a question of social connection).
3. A is an endangered species. B is a human. (This is a question of larger consequences).
4. A is an endangered species and important link in a big eco-system. B is a human.
5. A is a child. B is an adult (notice the species is not mentioned).
6. A is an infant. B is a healthy juvenile.
7. A is a disabled human. B is a thief (human).

You may add other cases and discuss them but the most important and interesting about the answers is the reasoning behind them, whatever you may find out they are. Notice there are many gradient values to validate. If you wish to post an answer it would be nice if you also specified where you would consider the border to be placed, aka cases where both candidates are approximately equally valued. Before reading my answer, I suggest you think about both questions long enough to reach a conclusion of your own.

My answer to the introductory question

Nature's system
As nature's system includes all life on earth there is one thing crucial to a human society that seems to be an impossibility in inter-species systems. That is communication. And as cooperation usually depends on both sufficient intelligence and communication, what remains is competition. While this is true at a broad perspective, cooperation is still necessary at the level of a single (or in some times even multiple) species. The requirements are fairly simple, survive and multiply. And for multiplication to be possible cross-gender competition must not interfere. However nature has countered even those extremely rare cases as in the ant species Wasmannia auropunctata. Good examples of cooperation in nature is wolf packs, bee hives, ant colonies and school of fish. Examples of inter-species cooperation is shrimps cleaning fish, insects pollinating flowers and countless cases of species and bacteria symbiosis. I also wish to address principles at a cellular level but I feel that will migrate too far from the topic at hand.

Human's society
When comparing our global society with nature, you would think we are very cooperative. However looking more closely and ignoring the difference in species of nature's system we find shockingly more similarities than differences. In fact one of the biggest difference I perceive is where cooperation is limited to very few inter-species connections in nature, the limit in our society is not larger than what we call a corporation or organization. In our monetary system what one competes for is no longer survival, but money, initially as a means of trading but now almost a necessity for survival. With the increased technology and abstraction of money to digitally represented debit and credit, the concept of nations has become very illusive, as all governments and even royal families ultimately appear to be for-profit companies. It is however to their advantage that national pride is sturdier that corporate pride. Now what keeps these powerful entities from clashing together in a war with sparks flying? In fact we are all in war/competition, albeit not a physically violent one as in nature (which is another big difference). Of course history has proven that violence does indeed occur in human society as well, and when at the scale of corporations (which we call war) is always ultimately motivated by money. War is a moneymachine like no other. The wealth gap between people is growing, and so for several reasons, most of which are inherently inescapable causes of the very monetary system itself. This fact is regrettably thickly veiled by a screen of complex and often boring numbers and graphs effectively discouraging people from trying to understand it. Corporate media usually directs attention to whatever is not important and affects its direct derivative common belief. You probably already see the ethical errors in our own society, yet we still judge individuals acting predictably according to it.

"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." - Henry Thoreau

"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

Our very social society being inherently unethical further complicates both questions and answers. A good question and answer alike should not be based on presumptions derived from our society. Be critical about distinguishing what you really know and what you take for granted.

"Our mind is of 3 categories: what we know, what we don’t know, and what we don’t know we don’t know.
Not knowing is unfortunate; not knowing that we don’t know is tragic.
" – W. Erhart.

"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." - Albert Einstein

All this text and I have not yet really answered the question. This is my basis for saying I think ethical values are promoted for two reasons. The first is the requirement of fairness at the level of individuals. Perhaps in fear of being oppressed or violated in some way. And that is absolutely fine. Ethics should serve humanity in eliminating unjust behavior and advocate cooperation. The other, for the better informed are for masking the violations that occur at a larger scale. People can easily point out a single culprit it a small case, but fail to realize. There is something terribly wrong with our very basic society!

I will never see through all of the scans I have...

  • Apr 08, 2011
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Society (My answer): I'm leaning towards cooperation (as you aforementioned), equality, and I think it's safe to add in the virtue of compassion.
For generations, even during the turn of the century had our species as well as others acted upon what was in best interest for our race, group, culture, sub-culture, or the narrower circle in the family. If someone, or something was deemed different, they were left to fend for themselves or acted more in competition than anyone else.
That aside, "fair" consent among wildlife is unchanging, where the primordial system is the only law. I think ethically, "fairness" is the concern for all people within the human society. I live in a democratic society, where those in need will have some sort help where ever and when ever they may be, presuming they can return the favor.. if not an arrangement can be compromised.. again in the interest of fairness.
Of course we all know that "survival of the fittest" is still present in human society. Become less diligent and your screwed. That person's arena of help will decrease.. but there is always a way to gain a foothold to society by simply doing something about it. Humans are smart enough to get along and as dumb enough to fight one another. Amidst peace, war, and revolution, the human society will always have the opportunity to be concerned of one another, plus knowing it straight away.

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You best be fearin' the ears baby.

  • Apr 09, 2011
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Wow! Your questions can take on so many responces depending on the intellect, character, and the morals of the person responding. And to myself, it seemed like there were more then two questions. I'm not sure I can measure up to your expectations, however, I will share my opinions, and views. On the subject of life and death; I believe that all living things (plants, animals, insects, even micro-organisms) have the right to live, providing that form of life does not end other life wthout a reasonable cause (food, self protection, protection of it's young). Of course there can be arguements that put that statement to the test, like in the case of termites. The termite can do considerable damage to property, and yet not threaten life, however, in order to stop the continuous damage, we exterminate them. We don't relocate them, we don't put up barriers that they can not pass, we kill them. Whenever possible, I believe that all living things have a right to live. Morality; take the young States of America (1776) and what they considered to be moral , compared to the present United States of America, and what is considered to be moral today. It seems to me, that the more infomation, knowledge, material, wealth, and power that man has acquired, morality has decreased and has become an acceptable (immoral) morality. If survival of the fittest means those who are wealthy and are politically powerful, then the majority of Americans are unfit. Because we live in a democratic society, survival of the fittest takes on an entirely diferent meaning. As I stated initially, I wasn't sure if my responces would measure up to what you might be expecting. It is a shame that you and I are not talking in person. I would really like to take these subjects to a more profound level. I'm a 49 year aged man, disabled, Christian, and I believe my perceptions would be quite different from yours. And your perceptions would be quite intriquing, as well as stimulating, compared to my views.

  • Apr 10, 2011

Deagels

Deagels

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@bluescorpian
I assure you I had no expectations at all. Perhaps my own answer would appear discouraging to some but it represents no standard whatsoever. I threw these questions out to the public to learn what other people think about them and thus get some opinions to compare my own standing with. I admire each and every attempt to answer as I know the fear of judgment can be powerful. You seem like a lovable fellow and my opposite despite the fact that we share a similar perspective. I myself is a 21 year old non-theistic man and with all due respect to the morals we learn from holy scriptures, I believe morality can exist independent of religious belief, as the difference is simply how we learn.

Question to everyone: Do you agree with the following generalization?

A being considered alive should be allowed to live to the extent where its existence or actions does not unpreventable infringe upon the net-quality of any life including its own, to a debatable extent.

This allegation does not however consider the possible increase of net-quality of life by sacrifice, as in feeding on other lifeforms to stay alive or in cases similar to my 1st question. I would like to see it evolve throughout the discussion. Do not be afraid to post. You will be handled with utmost respect :)

I will never see through all of the scans I have...

  • Apr 11, 2011
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Do you see any set fairness in that generalization? Because I don't

For instance a raccoon crosses a street but gets run over by a vehicle.. was that person driving at fault? No. Not to our human society.
That raccoon got in the way of the driver's routine in his/her life.


merged: 04-12-2011 ~ 12:17am
Can we do something about it? Probably. But not likely.
I can't help but sometimes accidentally stepping on some bug.. and most of the time I feel no remorse..

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You best be fearin' the ears baby.

  • Apr 11, 2011

Deagels

Deagels

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@xAl-san
I'm not sure I understand you correctly. Anyhow, it seems I forgot to address unintentional accidents. My apologies. I assume the hypothetical driver was unaware of the raccoon and had no intention to deliberately take its life. Intent is an invaluable factor for judging action. But what about when we know of the consequences? Even scratching your skin kills thousands of organisms. We're all mass-murderers. Even though we now know that washing ourselves kills a lot of organisms (I hope you agree that) we shouldn't stop showering. Neither should we have to analyze the ground thoroughly before each step to avoid crushing an unfortunate bug in our path. There arise a gray-zone between being oblivious to the consequences of our actions and knowing fully well that it will cost lives. What justifies stepping close to an ants nest knowing that you will probably step some ants to death? I share with you the absence of remorse or regret, but still, what justifies it? Is it justified if you honestly don't know about the ants nest at all? What is the correlation between awareness and responsibility? These are just thoughts thrown in the air...

What my allegation covers is intentional killing (by human hands) to avoid otherwise unavoidable (by human means) pain or decrease in quality of life of one or more life-forms in a totally personal and shameless attempt to justify intentionally taking a life. A good example I think would be euthanasia or mercy-killing where a life-form has been hurt (perhaps accidentally) beyond hope of repair and the pain is bad. To put it bluntly, cases where the happiness unpreventable decreases by not killing.
What I now have to add is consideration for unintentional killing with a varying degree of awareness of the consequences. That will entertain my mind for a while.

I will never see through all of the scans I have...

  • Apr 12, 2011

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