Ethics, for the last time!
Aug 27, 1994 08:02 PM
by Gerald Schueler
Jerry H-E writes: <Where do you find that I ever suggested
that we define a code of ethics? My suggestion was that we
discuss ethics, not define a code ... discuss ethical
systems ... discuss the ethical decision making process
... As to the stories you offered, I'm afraid I don't get
the connection. I see these stories as being about some
people who were trying to relieve their guilt by
rationalizing some religious regulations. What do these
stories have to do with ethics?>
Either Jerry is pulling my leg here, or perhaps Jerry
doesn't know what ethics are, or perhaps we are defining
ethics differently. I don't know which (?) But, just in
case Jerry is serious, and really doesn't know what ethics
are, or is defining them in some kind of theosophical way
that I am unaware of, let me quote from my Webster's New
World Dictionary: Ethics are "the study of standards of
conduct and moral judgement," and "the system or code of
morals of a particular person, religion, group, profession,
etc." Ethic is "a system of moral standards or values."
Morality is "moral quality or character, rightness or
wrongness, as of an action" and "the character of being in
accord with the principles or standards of right conduct,"
and "principles of right and wrong in conduct; ethics."
Also, "a particular system of such principles."
So the definition of the word ethics involves the word
morals, and vice versa. The two are thus closely related.
Both are defined as a "system of standards" and both relate
to codes. Both are linked to the concept of action or
conduct, in short, both relate to observable behaviors and
to codes of right/wrong action. I suppose that I should
point out that the dualistic concepts of right and wrong
are inherent in both words.
In a previous posting, I offered two short examples that
came to me rather quickly, that demonstrate the silliness
of ethics (which is the sole purpose of all my postings on
this subject in the first place). If Jerry can't see how
"religious regulations" and ethics are related, then this
posting probably won't help either. Sorry Jerry. Besides,
I already promised earlier that I would say no more on this
subject. Sorry folks. I apologize, but here I am once
again. Now, I positively promise that this will be the
last time (unless, of course, I have to provide some
further definitions from my trusty dictionary - but that
only!). After this, anyone who still cares to worry over
ethics and concern themselves with good or bad conduct or
the gosh-awful dangers of immorality or amorality, please
feel free to do so, without further observations on my
part. Meanwhile, thank you very much for letting me have
my say. We minority groups (I think I know when I am
out-voted) need to get out viewpoints heard once and again.
So, thanks for at least listening.
As human beings, we think, feel, and act. In psychology,
this is called the TFA firing order, and most psychologists
will run tests to determine the firing order of their
clients (Do they act first and then think about it later?
Do they think first? Do they think at all? Do they act from
their feelings? etc). The A or 'action' relates to
observable behaviors, which is to say, our actions on the
physical plane in our physical bodies. Every society sets
up rules of behavior or laws that we must live with. If we
obey these laws, we are good citizens. We get a gold star
in the form of a clear conscience. If we disobey these
laws, we are bad citizens and we must be punished. We get
a black star. If nothing else, this will be in the form of
a guilty conscience. The need for such laws, or codes of
behavior, is obvious for any civilized society (although it
is unfortunate that criminals only come into being when
laws are passed). Religion sets up similar laws. These
are moral codes of behaviors that address our spirit as
well as our body, and they run parallel with the legal laws
of the land, often as an extension of them. Infractions of
these moral laws do not send up to jail, but do charge us
with having committed a sin, and we have visions of God
posting a black mark in his Book of Life next to our name
(or something similar, depending upon your religions
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