A friend of mine hosts an ethics based talk show called Ethics Matters which you guys may like. I make it into a podcast for him, which is at www.ethicsmattersradio.com. The host, James Coley, and I are members of the Ethical Humanist Society of the Triangle in Chapel Hill, NC. James is a former philosophy professor and has covered many ethical issues on his program.

Tags: ethical culture, ethics, moral, moral values

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Enlightened Self-Interest

A non-religious morality can be based on the concept that there is no substantive evidence for an omnipotent father-figure deity as postulated by the Christian/Jewish/Islamic tradition. The guiding ethic is to truly act in your own best interest. That would mean treating all people fairly and honestly and, as it says in the Hippocratic oath, “Cause no harm.” Religions invent all other “sins” to increase their control over the lay people.

Practitioners would attempt to live in a state of enlightened self-interest. An individual’s self-interest is best served by doing no harm to others except in defense of themselves or those in their care.

For example, robbing a bank may yield temporary wealth, but at the expense of either a prison term or a life of fear, running from the law. Similarly, cheating others in business dealings may increase profits for a time. Eventually, your reputation will be so poor that your business may fail. This is a simple principle that “It’s always cheaper to make a customer happy than it is to make him angry.” That same idea can pay dividends in ordinary human relations. For reasons I don’t understand, few businesses or people appreciate this idea.

Capable, informed individuals could engage in any activity that interests them even if it puts them personally at risk. An example would be an automobile race. It is certainly dangerous to drive at racing speeds and it is equally dangerous to stand near the race course to observe or record this event. Two people may choose to do these things if they understand and accept the risks involved. One question that arises from this could be, what if one or both of these people have a spouse and children that depend upon them for financial and emotional support? Should they still do this knowing that if they are injured or killed it will cause some degree of harm to these dependents? If they choose to do so, does anyone else have the right to prevent them?

Those are ethical questions that can and should be debated, but each person must be free to choose his own answer. No other person or government should have the right to make these choices for us. You can do what you want if you are prepared for all possible consequences, no matter how remote the possibility.
Thanks, Scott. I'll put it on my list of podcasts to try. I think I've seen it in the iStore, no?
Yes, we're in the iTunes Store. :) Thanks for checking it out!
Check out yesterday's episode:

Episode 92 - James Coley talks to Cecil Bothwell, newly elected City Councilman from Asheville, NC, about the challenge that is being made to the legitimacy of his election under a provision in the North Carolina constitution that declares ineligible for public office anyone “who shall deny the being of Almighty God.”

http://bit.ly/8qZZ6i
HI Ken and Scott,
What a surprise to find Ethical Culture here! Is this like Facebook for Atheists?
I belong to the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island. Do you belong to an Ethical Society?
Oh, St. Louis is a great ethical society and they have a great leader.
I'm a member of the St. Louis society and yes, Kate Lovelady is an EXCELLENT leader!! Joining up with them is one of the best things I've done for myself in the past several years.
Hi Scott!

As a former resident of Western North Carolina (grew up in Bryson City and attended Western Carolina University as an undergrad), I am EXTREMELY proud that Asheville has a freethinking Mayor! But then again, Asheville is known as the Austin or San Franscisco, etc. of the area.

Unfortunately, a few states such as MD, MA, NC, PA, SC, TN & TX, still have on their books a religious clause to hold office. For shame.

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