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I was never raised with terms like ethical or moral and I don't actually believe in either. A moralist is a rigourist with a talent for justifying anything. One persons ethical behaviour is another persons unethical behaviour.

What use are they?

Whether it's abortion or stem cell research I think they should be judged by how pro or anti human they are especially in terms of the individuals who choose them, the circumstances or who in particular might benefit and in what way. It's not valid, for example, to say it's equally wrong for a woman in a slum who already has eight children to have an abortion compared to a mega wealthy socialite in London who just found out 7 months in that the pregnancy will interfere with her holiday plans. With stem cell research it's not logical no matter what the ethics or morals claimed apply to put a bunch of embryonic cells on the same level as a person suffering from a spinal disease. I think it's possible to argue that discussing things in terms of ethics and morals is one of those unwinnable games of see saw the religious mind has drawn reason into.

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The problem with labeling terms like ethics and morals is that the terms are contextually based on the illusion that there is right and wrong. Right and wrong are absolute terms like black and white. If you say it is wrong to kill you are saying it is ALWAYS wrong. The ethics/morals terms leave no room for flexibility. Anyone that says that there exists 'situational ethics' is saying now that there are two types of ethics; universal and situational. People think in their native languages and rigid terms lead to rigid thinking.

I have to agree with you FXR, that ethics/morals are limiting in scope when applied universally but generally I believe that the problem arises form the use of ideas like right and wrong. Right and wrong do not exist in nature. They are concepts derived by humans to describe actions. I personally prefer the concepts of better or worse because they are contextual and situational. Something can only be worse when compared to another something. Nothing is inherently bad but some things are worse/better than others depending on the objective viewpoint. This new way of labeling ethical concepts such as killing or stealing creates a way to say what the response to ethical situations should be in comparison to the alternative responses.

Viewing the world of human behavior from the lens of good/bad or right/wrong is what is currently holding humanity back from achieving a universal rule-set of situational behavior. There are times when killing is necessary and those times are always situational. You can't just label anything with an absolute because there are always exceptions. The idea of judgment from on high is what set the template for absolute moral/ethical labeling. The one who is judging is the one who determines the standards for right/wrong. Since there is no final arbiter of judgment there is no right/wrong. The day will come when a killing is only justifiable because all of the alternative actions would have had worse results than a death not because it was the right thing to do.
Actually Jacob that puts it even better. I read as many newspapers and watch as many news programs as I can. Events are constantly described in black and white. Famous (or infamous) in the news humans are described and judged in black and white terms derived from Jesusism. At the mass level humans are collectively still delivered information in simple terms which is I think wired into human thinking by organised religions simplistic idea of good and evil delivered over centuries by indoctrination from childhood.

As an alternative I've been thinking of the concept of Spherical Thinking.

The first law of Spherical Thinking is:
While there is no advantage that may not eventually become a disadvantage there is no disadvantage that may not eventually become an advantage.

In Spherical thinking nothing has a definite completely know beginning or a definite completely know end.

I've put those out to a few people and so far no one has come up with anything that can contradict either.

The need to define what is and what is not moral are bred from a pre existing mental atmosphere created by religious black and white thinking.

I really like the concept of Spherical Thinking. Could you elaborate on it a little bit? How would you apply it to some of the more common ethical/moral dilemmas?

The first law of Spherical Thinking is:
While there is no advantage that may not eventually become a disadvantage there is no disadvantage that may not eventually become an advantage.

For example:A man who is really strong in his youth might depend on his strength more often than not to solve his problems but as he grows older finds that he is not very strong any more and has no alternative solutions for problem solving. Is that kind of where you are going with it?

I think, at least based on your first law, that Spherical Thinking might fit in very well with the concept of universal balance and equilibrium. Yin and Yang and that whole crowd or even perhaps the beliefs of the Navajo people and their Sacred Hoop.

I'm curious. Tell me more.
Take the example above of a person being physically strong eary in life. Being physically strong will be an advantage at that time. In competing with peers strength will suffice. For the peers it will not and they will have to develope strategies mentally which will be more sophisticated. The physically strong youth will develope less of these since his needs are met by being strong. As his physical strength fades the added mental agility is less well developed and the advantage of being physically strong where that was sufficient in competing against other youths has by then become an disadvantage. The disadvantgae of the competion not being physically strong in the other(s) had pressured them into developing skills that become an advantage later.
Pancreatic cancer: who has it and when?
A person is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. As a result the person who had been thinking of an idea for years decides to write a book based on the idea which they would not have otherwise done. The book sells great amounts and the person dies famous which the would not otherwise have done. The idea solves a fundmental problem and results in benifits for the human race.

As a result of being diagnosed all the persons children and relatives decide to accept they might get it and they take action which they would not have otherwise done. As a result they become more healthy. As a result their children become in the habit of taking care of their health. As a result a trend that would have led to two or three in each successive generation dying from or suffering from morbid obesity is terminated by hearing of the pancreatic cancer.
The person who gets the cancer changes jobs having previously not felt the incentive. He becomes far more successful then he would have and leaves far more money for his survivors than he would have. As a result one of them beomes a chemist and finds a cure for pancreatic cancer.

(Sorry I'm in an internet cafe and I can't check my spelliing)
I think it does. An event in Evolution is not confined to one member of a particular species. The book was only one variation. The circumstances that lead to the writing of the book and making it a reality is the diagnosis of cancer. In moving through cycles of advantage/disadvantage the degrees of each do not have to be equal in terms of quality and length. As the event spreads from the sphere of the cancer sufferer through all the related spheres of the surrounding lives the effects will be multiples of advantage and disadvantage of varying and changing degrees.

Nothing that happens is an isolated event contained in and of itself. Even if the course of one life is cut short just that it's shorter does not mean it is a lesser life.

You cannot say for definite that there are not people who would prefer to be diagnosed with cancer and die having made a great contribution to humanity (as they see it) rather than live to 80 and die of boredom. There are people everyday who would cut their own lives short if they could provide better for their children’s future by doing so.
A person might have no idea for a book at all but once diagnosed with cancer have the idea of documenting it. That situation might go from disadvantage (cancer diagnosis) to advantage (tv, media, film), launch the careers of family members (to their advantage), to disadvantage (one becomes an alco) and so on. The Evolution does not stop.
No John I'm not saying you should deliberately harm yourself.....but I'm all for experiment so if you want to try it go ahead and get back to me (joke).

But then committing suicide might be to someone’s advantage: Euthanasia.

I think that whatever events unfold, even if it's pancreatic cancer, their will always be multiple effects. If you do get diagnosed with cancer it would be better understanding that no matter how inevitable the final personal consequences will be there will always be advantages that can be drawn from it.

I had a bad accident a few years ago in work. I used it to my advantage. I was off for almost 3 years. During that time I learned Spanish, basic German, French, some Italian, Polish, Chinese and I stocked a school in Cuba among other things. Disadvantage always rolls into advantage which always creates disadvante all within the same sphere and often at the same time.

I also used the accident to negotiate the company red tape and move from a sinking part of the ship to a well paid easy job.
Now I get paid double what my former colleagues get paid thought they've worked for the company an awful lot longer.

One side effect of Spherical Thinking is divesting one's self of emotions like panic or worry.

It's like my grandfather used to always say; F*&K it!

It does not matter how serious the situation is there will always be advantages that can be drawn from it. Every disadvantage in the world creates an advantage which will also create disadvantes.
As an alternative I've been thinking of the concept of Spherical Thinking.

While there is no advantage that may not eventually become a disadvantage there is no disadvantage that may not eventually become an advantage.

Sounds rather Taoist. Do you know the parable of the farmer?

But how does that relate to one's conduct towards others?
It changes how one understands human behaviour. Persoanl hatred becomes illogical. Love becomes illogical. It makes extremeism illogical. Since any defeat is a disadvantage then it's not total defeat since that may eventually become an advantage.

(I'll try to add more later, i have to keep putting coins in this thing.)
No action by you or another person can be attributed entirely of itself as having originated from that person independently. There is no such thing as the religious concept of evil floating around waiting to get into the drinking water.

Human behaviour is influenced by local, conditions, pressures, perception of resources; desire to compete successfully, self defence, hunger and all the various influences and impulses of the human brain. It is easier to hate/love than it is to understand but in the longer term understanding can't disappoint because it’s Spherical: it has no definite known end or beginning.

Human behaviour has to be understood as human behaviour and the only way to do that is to study Evolution as the map. As such there is no ultimate right or wrong so thinks have to be understood spherically instead of black and white and linear progressions developing in parallel.
Hello. I have always looked at Ethics and Morality as two separate things. Ethical considerations are those things that are strictly illegal by a group and unquestionably actionable when abridged. Morals are those things that groups don't often particularly like however are not illegal. So, something unethical is usually always immoral, but something immoral is not necessarily unethical. Now, I'm not trying to argue with you here because this has always been a used by myself as a guidepost. So, the tricky situation of abortion seems to kind of fit in this rationalization. Since most people consider murder as morally wrong AND it is considered illegal in all jurisdictions, murder is unethical. But, since only a portion of people consider abortion as murder and it is not illegal in all jurisdictions, then abortion is only a moral issue. I'm quite sure this is not the end-all of labeling the two. It just seems to work well in my mind. Thanks for the discussion. :)
I've always thought of ethics as being personal in nature and morals as being social in nature. I don't know why I ended up thinking of them along those lines. Perhaps it was a Robert Heinlein influence. Ethics are a rule-set I use to guide my behavior in personal situations. Like when I am alone or with just one or two other people that I know. In these circumstances my behavior is completely different than how it is when I am in public and vice versa. Morals are the rule-set that society agrees to live with by way of unanimous, continuous and unspoken consent.

Perhaps I see it this way because this is the way it actually is. Everybody knows that when they are alone they can damn well do whatever they please. I know from second hand accounts and personal experience that individuals do not continue to follow all of societies rules, laws, morals or taboos when they are in a private space or small groups. Observe the fact that even little tribal street gangs have their own personal rules within their tribe. Hell's Angels, the biker gang, has internal rules that they follow when they are together.

My personal ethics are actually the hardest set rules that I have. They are inviolate to me. I know what I am ok with and what I am not ok with. I know how I prefer to behave and I do so when I am by myself or with close friends. When a person is said to have a good work ethic it is not some company policy they are following but their own policy. I am certain that even crazy axe murderers maintain rules that they will refuse to break. It might be ok to kill people with hatchets when they make you sick by the way they chew their food but not ok to hurt someone out of anger because that's weak and out of control. I believe that social morals are decided, unspoken, based on what everyone's personal ethics are. Most people do not steal. Why not? It isn't hard, when you think about it, to steal much of anything given the proper circumstances but still most people choose not to do it. Is it really the deterrent of jail that prevents most people from stealing? I believe that most people empathize with other people and would not want to be stolen from. The Golden Rule. Therefore they do not steal. Because it sucks. I know that there are societies that don't subscribe to private ownership but even those agree that taking without giving something in return is uncool. Social morals and personal ethics are in a feedback loop wherein, naturally, the two tend to reflect eachother.

I believe all moral arguments are based on personal ethics. One part of society does not wish the other part to use abortion. They claim it is a moral issue. They are saying that no one should want to use abortion. This wish is purely based on each persons' personal ethics. Abortion is something they would never do. (Ignore for the moment that most of those people were all trained to feel this way internally and half of them don't really have to worry about it.) Society's rules influence the behavior of individuals which then form their own personal rules, based on their own internal feelings, which then influence the rules of their society and so on.

Morals and ethics are two separate things for sure but maybe in more ways than you think they are very much related.


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