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#22620 - 07/04/07 07:18 PM ETHICS--the science of morals, principles, etc....
Revlgking Offline
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Registered: 01/17/07
Posts: 2311
Loc: markham (Thornhill), Ontario, ...
Check out THE OBSERVER and what it says about ethics.
http://www.ucobserver.org/archives/index.shtml

MY PERSONAL CONVICTIONS
In my opinion, from their beginning, all religions have been concerned about the morals and ethics of all people, but it is only recently--perhaps since the 1970's--that we have seen certain individuals come forward and call themselves "professional" ethicists, and be quoted in the media as such.

PROFESSIONAL ETHICISTS--new kids on the block
=============================================
For years, The Observer, mentioned above and a well-known church magazine in Canada, has carried articles on moral and ethical issues. However, this month it focusses on:

THE MORAL AUTHORITIES in our midst--the philosophers, doctors, clergy, including theologians, who are known as ethicists. They are, definitely, a new breed of professionals--if we, the people, all agree to accept them as such.

The Observer article points out that, "in today's world ethicists have replaced church leaders as arbiters of right and wrong."

Today, the media present us with ethicists as if they are go-to people on a wide variety of topics. They--and some are not necessarily overtly religious--are being listened to in the ways that, in another time, Christians use to defer to their Bible-quoting clergy and bishops. Is this a good idea? Or not?

WHAT ABOUT OTHER RELIGIONS?
It goes without saying that devout Muslims have always looked to their Koran-quoting mullahs as their moral authorities. They do to this even to this day.

I assume that secularist humanists (SH) can also be ethicists. Where are you SH? Stand up and be counted. You have my respect, okay?

QUESTIONS
Do we need professional ethicists?
Is it a valid profession?
Do you know any ethicists?
Would you value their advice?
Would you consult one?
Would you expect an ethicist to have a religion?
Or does it matter?
Is it at least as scientific as economics?
Or is it a bogus science seeking to become a valid one?
======================================================
THE FOLLOWING IS INTERESTING
http://www.professionalethics.ca/
http://www.professionalethics.ca/cdn.html
http://www.intact.ca/canary.htm
http://www.christianity.ca/news/weblog/2006/6.14.html
http://www.intact.ca/othersites.html
======================
LET'S NOT FORGET ISLAM
http://www.understanding-islam.com/related/text.asp?type=article&aid=75
======================
I assume that every "true" religion has its own brand of ethicism, and set of morals. It would be interesting to see how they compare with others. Perhaps, if they have a lot in common this commonality could be called the science of ethics. Or am I reaching?




Edited by Revlgking (07/04/07 10:33 PM)
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#22622 - 07/04/07 08:00 PM Re: ETHICS--the science of morals, principles, etc.... [Re: Revlgking]
TheFallibleFiend Offline
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Registered: 06/08/05
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Loc: http://thefalliblefiend.blogsp...
Ethics may be useful. It may even be necessary. But it's not science.

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#22623 - 07/04/07 10:01 PM Re: ETHICS--the science of morals, principles, etc [Re: TheFallibleFiend]
Revlgking Offline
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Registered: 01/17/07
Posts: 2311
Loc: markham (Thornhill), Ontario, ...
TFF, I respect your personal conviction, even if you are not a professional (Are you? If so, what kind...?). May I ask, what evidence do you have for your opinion, or is it just that, your opinion?

BTW, how would one go about proving that what you affirm is so? Or is it just your opinion?

In my humble opinion, I think of ethics--which I studied way back when, as a normative science--like economics, sociology and psychology. It is, obviously, not a hard science, like say chemistry.


Edited by Revlgking (07/04/07 10:23 PM)

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#22629 - 07/05/07 01:31 AM Re: ETHICS--the science of morals, principles, etc [Re: Revlgking]
Ellis Offline
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Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 1490
Loc: Australia
I totally agree with TFF. Ethics, like customs, differ within the various societies in which humans choose to live. Outside of the Golden Rule there is little agreement as to ethical behaviour. It is not a science, in fact I see the study of Ethics as a subject as a very odd idea. Ethical behaviour should be implicit within the activity and/ or subject matter under study, it should be totally integrated into our behaviour. The problem is that what I regard as ethical may not appear so to others. How can you then study such a nebulous subject as ethics as a science? It's like knitting jelly.


Edited by Ellis (07/05/07 01:32 AM)

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#22631 - 07/05/07 02:14 AM Re: ETHICS--the science of morals, principles, etc [Re: Ellis]
Revlgking Offline
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Registered: 01/17/07
Posts: 2311
Loc: markham (Thornhill), Ontario, ...
Ellis, is this your personal opinion? Or are you speaking with authority and are certain of which you speak?

BTW, I am glad you agree that there is more than a little agreement among people regarding the Golden Rule.

Unless they have a totally insane belief, which I suspect they do have, even suicide "murderers", have to accept that others could, in this lifetime, do unto them--that is, meet out severe punishment--as they are willing to meet out to others. Eventually one side, or the other, will be left alive and victorious.

BTW, we did survive the Dark Ages.

_________________________
G~O~D--Now & ForeverIS:Nature, Nurture & PNEUMA-ture, Thanks to Warren Farr&ME AT www.unitheist.org

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#22632 - 07/05/07 04:20 AM Re: ETHICS--the science of morals, principles, etc [Re: Revlgking]
Ellis Offline
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Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 1490
Loc: Australia
My opinions- which I hold with some certainty until proved otherwise (I try to have an open mind) and I do not ever presume to speak for others. My version of the Golden Rule, as I understand it says- do as you would be done by ie treat all with the same degree of friendliness and courtesy that you would like others to treat you.. not Let's kill each other. I am at a loss to understand how you could interpret it the way you have stated. No wonder you need the science of Ethics (in my opinion of course).

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#22637 - 07/05/07 01:42 PM Re: ETHICS--the science of morals, principles, etc [Re: Ellis]
TheFallibleFiend Offline
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Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 1940
Loc: http://thefalliblefiend.blogsp...
Rev, not one post you have ever made to this forum has ever betrayed the slightest understanding of what is and what is not science. You apparently use the word science to mean "study of" rather than a practitioner of the scientific method applied to topics which are amenable to that method.

This is an understandable approach from people who do not actually practice science, but want to associate their own opinions with scientific conclusions. Tragically, to many people science holds the same position of reverence in which previous generations might have held religion.

I am not an expert on anything, even in my own field. But I am a knowledgeable layman in a number of areas, including history and philosophy of science, computer science (the vast majority of which is not science), physics, evolution. I am becoming an expert on complex adaptive systems, and may soon be able to refer to myself without proviso as a scientist in this incipient science.

My view that ethics is not science is both my opinion and a fact. As with most of the topics you bring up, there are places where ethics touches science.

Economics was more of a proto-science for a long time, but is now growing into its own, with its own methods. Saying that it was formerly a proto-science is not demeaning. Most sciences went through a phase like that. Psychology and Sociology are sciences, but they are also subject to a lot of philosophical and political brain pollution. Most psychologists and sociologists are not scientists. Most have bachelor's degrees and are the rough intellectual equivalents of technicians.

Saying that something is not science is not the same as saying that it's false or that it's unimportant. What that means is its conclusions cannot be said to have the same UL-like certification of actual science.

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#22641 - 07/05/07 07:50 PM Re: ETHICS--the science of morals, principles, etc [Re: TheFallibleFiend]
redewenur Offline
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Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
I see that were back to religion once again; inevitably, I suppose. My impression is that religions have been more concerned with defending their dogmas and there very existence than with ethics. The hordes of Genghis Khan probably displayed as much ethical behaviour as many millions of religious dignitaries and there flocks over the centuries. I'm not singling out a particular religion. It's a broad spectrum phenomenon. It's ironic that society should be expected to derive its ethical standards from such sources. Religion is NOT a reliable guide to moral/ethical behaviour. I recall a sentence, "by their deeds shall you know them", or something to that effect (I'm not an expert with such quotes) - the words are not "by their religion (or lack thereof) shall you know them". Good is good, and bad is bad, and the Golden Rule, to which Ellis referred, has nothing to do with affiliation to a feel-good club in the guise of a God given religion.

I would agree that ethics cannot qualify as a science. It may well be hard-wired into the DNA to some degree, but it certainly has a great deal to do with the pervading philosophy of a given society. I do think, however, that scientific knowledge and rationality can and should be applied in evaluating questions of ethics. Stem cell research being a case in point.
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#22642 - 07/05/07 11:30 PM Re: ETHICS--the science of morals, principles, etc [Re: redewenur]
TheFallibleFiend Offline
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Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 1940
Loc: http://thefalliblefiend.blogsp...

"It may well be hard-wired into the DNA to some degree,"
That part is amenable to actual, scientific investigation, at least in principle. Also, this might be very useful to find out. What are the deltas?

"but it certainly has a great deal to do with the pervading philosophy of a given society."
As description, this could be part of anthropology; as prescription, I don't see how it could ever be a part of science.

The danger isn't necessarily with dogma, per se - it's in assuming that we have a piece of knowledge with one degree of intellectual support when it's really at a different level.

We start out saying that some very unlikely thing for which we have no support at all is a 'distinct possibility,' and then we're asserting that it's likely (even in the face of no evidence), and suddenly we're speaking as if it were a justifiable assumption.

It's NOT that the idea is wrong or false or even harmful in itself that's the issue. Dogmatism is inevitable when we can't even conceptually test a thing.

Crochet is very useful, but it's not science. Making the materials that are used for crochet might involve a lot of technology (the application of science). There might even be some useful mathematics involved - I wouldn't know, I don't crochet. But crochet is not a science. Theology is not a science. Ethics is not a science. Papier-mache is not a science. I suspect a lot of psychology is not a science. I doubt "political science" is a science. Probably a lot of the actual practice of medicine is not a science.

Saying something is not scientific is not the same as declaring it unimportant.

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#22643 - 07/05/07 11:47 PM Re: ETHICS--the science of morals, principles, etc [Re: TheFallibleFiend]
Ellis Offline
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Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 1490
Loc: Australia
I shall not post in this topic again as I find Rev's closed mind very confronting. He/she is quite incapale of understanding that this is not a site for spreading the word of a group (see his challenge above regarding my opinion being mine alone and not part of a religious dogma). I have a rule of personal conduct (my own very unscientific Ethics) which do not include being rude to people, and I'm close to doing that, so I'll enjoy posting in other topics here instead.

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#22644 - 07/06/07 01:22 AM Re: ETHICS--the science of morals, principles, etc [Re: Ellis]
Tim Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/16/06
Posts: 192
Loc: California
Am I mistaken in thinking that "ethics" or moral behaviour by humans is just evolution and our means of survival passed down through the ages in practice therefore being an applied science but not a pure science?
I do not know much on the subject, other than religion (should, and is meant to) endorse a strong ethical and moral behaviour of selflessness and thinking of others.
I am not an expert on the subject, but it would seem to me an applied science.

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#22646 - 07/06/07 05:05 AM Re: ETHICS--the science of morals, principles, etc [Re: TheFallibleFiend]
redewenur Offline
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Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
TFF

"Dogmatism is inevitable when we can't even conceptually test a thing."

I'm not sure, but what I think that means is: if people don't recognise or acknowledge a testable, falsifiable theory to explain something, then many will declare that their own speculations are immutable fact. I suppose it's inevitable that there will always be people who do that.

Which is why I disagree with the preceding sentence: "It's NOT that the idea is wrong or false or even harmful in itself that's the issue", and also with this: "The danger isn't necessarily with dogma, per se -..."

Still, as I said, I agree that ethics is not a science but rather an aspect of philosophy - and it's not only useful, it's critically important.
_________________________
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#22649 - 07/06/07 05:22 AM Re: ETHICS--the science of morals, principles, etc [Re: redewenur]
terrytnewzealand Offline
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Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 1031
Loc: Whangarei New Zealand
Tim wrote:

"Am I mistaken in thinking that "ethics" or moral behaviour by humans is just evolution and our means of survival passed down through the ages in practice".

Ah, you're getting it now Tim. Ethics, like everything else, certainly evolves. You are not quite correct when you add, "therefore being an applied science but not a pure science". Science would come in through studying the evidence to help us understand the evolution of ethics and examining whether it is somehow hard-wired into our DNA. Just using 'ethics' without examining its origin and source is not science.

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#22651 - 07/06/07 01:25 PM Re: ETHICS--the science of morals, principles, etc [Re: terrytnewzealand]
TheFallibleFiend Offline
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Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 1940
Loc: http://thefalliblefiend.blogsp...


tff: "It's NOT that the idea is wrong or false or even harmful in itself that's the issue", and also with this: "The danger isn't necessarily with dogma, per se -..."

redewenur: "Which is why I disagree with the preceding sentence:"

Yea. I kinda disagreed with it at first, too. I had to think about it a bit before realizing it, but I think I still agree with it now. The fact that an untestable idea MIGHT be wrong or false is a worrisome problem - it's worrisome since, because it's not even testable, there's no way of discovering and recovering from our error. Surely that's A problem. But a problem I think is worse is this: the deterioration of the scientific process. Even if any particular assumed idea is true and ultimately beneficial, that doesn't mean that ALL Of the ideas are true and beneficial - and they all get the Underwriter's Lab (science) seal of approval - not because they're derived from scientific principles, but simply because they made some philosopher happy.

What's more is this: I strongly suspect that one of the implicit assumptions of modern ethics is wrong; namely, that it's even conceptually possible to align reality into categorical imperatives. (I doubt philosophers would actually say that they do this, but when I have talked with them - not often, admittedly - it seems pretty clear that it is just the lens through which they view the world. Note that this is not exactly the same thing that Kant actually SAID, which is something like "we should act in such a way that our action could be made a general operating principle." That's not exactly it, but it's a reasonable facsimile.)





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#22652 - 07/06/07 01:26 PM Re: ETHICS--the science of morals, principles, etc [Re: terrytnewzealand]
TheFallibleFiend Offline
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Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 1940
Loc: http://thefalliblefiend.blogsp...


tff: "It's NOT that the idea is wrong or false or even harmful in itself that's the issue", and also with this: "The danger isn't necessarily with dogma, per se -..."

redewenur: "Which is why I disagree with the preceding sentence:"

Yea. I kinda disagreed with it at first, too. I had to think about it a bit before realizing it, but I think I still agree with it now. The fact that an untestable idea MIGHT be wrong or false is a worrisome problem - it's worrisome since, because it's not even testable, there's no way of discovering and recovering from our error. Surely that's A problem. But a problem I think is worse is this: the deterioration of the scientific process. Even if any particular assumed idea is true and ultimately beneficial, that doesn't mean that ALL Of the ideas are true and beneficial - and they all get the Underwriter's Lab (science) seal of approval - not because they're derived from scientific principles, but simply because they made some philosopher happy.

What's more is this: I strongly suspect that one of the implicit assumptions of modern ethics is wrong; namely, that it's even conceptually possible to align reality into categorical imperatives. (I doubt philosophers would actually say that they do this, but when I have talked with them - not often, admittedly - it seems pretty clear that it is just the lens through which they view the world. Note that this is not exactly the same thing that Kant actually SAID, which is something like "we should act in such a way that our action could be made a general operating principle." That's not exactly it, but it's a reasonable facsimile.)





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#22656 - 07/06/07 05:42 PM Re: ETHICS--the science of morals, principles, etc [Re: TheFallibleFiend]
redewenur Offline
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Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
TFF: "But a problem I think is worse is this: the deterioration of the scientific process... ...but simply because they made some philosopher happy."

I think the philosopher in question is the sum total of society, including its political representatives, and many scientists would agree that this "philosopher" can threaten to undermine confidence in the scientific method, as observable by what amounts to an on-going experiment in the USA.

TFF: "I strongly suspect that one of the implicit assumptions of modern ethics is wrong; namely, that it's even conceptually possible to align reality into categorical imperatives."

Again, I'm not 100% sure of what that means but:

I think Terry has made an important point. Ethical values and standards are not static. They evolve. My own impression is that they are generally evolving for the better.
_________________________
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#22675 - 07/09/07 08:54 AM Re: ETHICS--the science of morals, principles, etc [Re: redewenur]
terrytnewzealand Offline
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Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 1031
Loc: Whangarei New Zealand
Redewenur wrote:

"My own impression is that they are generally evolving for the better".

My feeling also. But this has nothing to do with religion, although its basis may have developed from elements of Christianity. The improvement of ethics is more to do with contact across cultural boundaries. The improvement may have started with the movement to abolish slavery. I'm sure this developed as more people, apart from actual slave owners, had personal contact with slaves. Parts of the Bible were used to justify this opposition but the Bible has been used to justify all sorts of unethical movements as well. I suspect the Vietnam war played a part in the improvement of ethics in more recent times. Perhaps some good will come from the revival of the Crusade being waged at present.

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