• god must be atheist
    In fine, it is better to describe ethics as distinct from culture, as to do with behaviour that appears to cause damage or otherwise as against innocuous behaviour as culture.RW Standing
    If I read this right, it makes tons of sense to me. However, there are too many "as"-es that obscure my language skills in trying to parse this sentence.

    Please re-write this sentence in more precise English. The way I read it, it shows brilliant insight, but I may be misreading it... I can't tell from here what it says, what with the unnecessarily unusual constructs you use in it.
  • RW Standing
    Not sure how my ambiguities confuse. I do not like the idea of employing the term Culture so as to include ethics in any form. As I may have said somewhere, there is no hard dividing line between ethics and morality, and culture. The famous veil that some women wear is an example of culture at the edge. Culture I take to be those arts and crafts and traditions that up until now demark one country from another, and may be considered an highly desirable attribute. That is diversity in culture - multiculturalism. Diversity I include in my list of ethical values, but relates to culture. It is absurd for ethics to justify a rampant range of morality on the grounds of diversity. In fact, if you have followed my diagrammatic representation of values, cultural diversity is NOT applicable to Anarchism which tends to produce a global unity of culture.
    I had better stop in case I confuse myself too!!!
  • god must be atheist

    You came to a brilliant conclusion: Ethics is the values placed on behaviour judged for a behaviour's effect for the detriment or for the continued sustenance of culture.

    Why can't you go with this? I fully support this.
  • RW Standing
    That sounds like good description. Of course, in fact, the good or otherwise would not be judged apriori on the basis or prejudice. There are by my reckoning three essential or fundamental forms of society - as opposed to social chaos - and value would be judged within each of them. Which means that in anarchism [so to speak] the widest range of behaviour would be accepted [egalitarian] that does not undermine social stability. Although, pragmatism would not be defining feature of such a society. The 'virtue' of altruistic society being pragmatism. Authoritarian society would be pragmatic but only to the benefit of the system [divine right of kings] and its 'god'. if you understand that its more than I can!
  • god must be atheist

    Verrry interesting. For now I would like to add only, that the driving force in an anarchistic society is also pragmatism, but it happens without social cohesion beyond the nuclear family unit. Each to his own. The goal of every individual is to pragmatically obtain and secure what one and one's family needs and wants, with no regard to other families.

    So the three types of societies you drew up the difference is scope of pragmatism. In anarchy, every unit is equal, and selfish. In an altruistic society (such as European, Canadian and Australian democracies) the resources and social structures that evolved allows all units to look out as much for themselves as for all other units. In totalitarianism, there is only one beneficiary, ultimately, the king (or henchman, or strongman, or head of state, or whatever you want to call him or her.) Here, pragmatism serves only the king, all other people are worth shit. The scope of pragmatism is over all society, but benefitting only one. In altruism, scope is all society, benefitting all. In anarchy, scope is family-wide, but not beyond, benefitting the family only.
  • RW Standing
    I am still concocting notes on the general subject.
    On the matter of Rights. It may already have been stated that rights barely apply to authoritarian society but duty does, and there is a right for anarchistic society for its people to be independent of each other [their families or groups etc as may be] and duty in accordance. Altruist society is of its nature bound to accord rights to its citizens, and at a global level, rights will be accorded national societies. These cannot stand alone and must have corresponding duties or responsibilities. Such as the right to education and realizing one’s own potential is set against a duty to employ the fruits of that education for the benefit of society whether embodied by the nation or otherwise. But there the matter becomes interesting. Because we live in a natural global society, and rights may be accorded all forms of life. Within human society, rights apply to all people whatsoever, including criminals. But the catch is that of both pragmatism and balancing duties. As a rational species [so we say] we can accord rights to animals. But animals have no such understanding and cannot reciprocate other than as nature dictates. Therefore the process is one-way and practicality can only take the form of our respecting nature as a whole, and in particular the beasts we domesticate. Within human society, a criminal is a citizen with the all the accepted rights. But this is balanced by the fact, presumably, that he has failed in various duties. This means that he can be respected as a sensate and rational human being, but certain rights-duties are incomplete and therefore he is most likely in prison.
    Anarchistic society is unlikely to be realized at its theoretical extreme – if that could be defined. But the right to life and minimal security will undoubtedly exist or be accorded. Some element of the Decalogue would be admirably suited, and penalties might well be biblical.
  • RW Standing
    Freewill: An overstated faculty. We are often told that God has given us Freewill. But what it is we call God is both vague and has to be proved to exist. What we call Freewill is rather vague also. Assume freewill signifies our having control over what we do and choose from all that is available and acting on it. Excellent. But now define that in terms of ethics. Why choose one of the three supposed end-values rather than another, four values if chaos is included. We are what we are already by the fact of previous nature and nurture. The ‘goods’ we value will already be imprinted on us so as to bias our ‘choice’. But we continue to experience, learn, and employ our mental faculties. A Road to Damascus event might have immediate and great impact. A predisposition to be beneficent to others, and what may be an entirely false belief in the words of Jesus of Nazareth, will be a powerful inducement towards some form of altruistic behaviour. Or it may impel us to burn heretics. Or behave in way that is superficially innocuous, but rationally a risk to society in the long term. We do as we are, and then do as we have become. A rush of fear and cowardice may have a great immediate effect on decisions.
    As previously mentioned, altruist society may attract those who are inclined to be practical in the long term.
    Nevertheless, it is in nature of altruist society that everyone be held accountable for their actions unless they are like many of us barking mad. Anarchism in its nature may be vindictive, and authoritarianism may in its nature be implacable.
    Communities or nations also exist as citizens of the world, and are similarly accountable. The difference to altruism being that tyranny seeks to unify globally in one business concern, and anarchism sees the world as an aggregate of individuals.
  • RW Standing
    The three types of society indicate the direction of travel. Not that everything is fixed in one or the other. There are of course any number of variations. Our own country and people in it no doubt falls into some intermediary position that I was going to mention. We have today many nations that call themselves democratic and have similarities in use of values. The point of the matter is that the current linear model of Left and Right, and the ethical model of some absolute sounding Virtue and Vice are inadequate.
  • RW Standing
    A society of autonomous individuals is not what we have in this country, which in fact is very cooperative. But there is a vanity about freedom, that is dangerous, so far as altruists are concerned.
  • RW Standing
    All the elementary values relate in varying degrees to all forms of stable society. Where they cease to do so then society is falling into conflict and chaos. As for instance freedom relates particularly to altruist and anarchistic society and clearly least so to its antonym of tyranny – except for the tyrant if that is a person and not something more subtle. Any society that exists will be somewhere between. Freedom is a question about purpose and is not a society in iteslf.
    It is peculiar to modern society that it is obsessed with the idea of competition. Whereas, we do not need to be followers of Lovelock to realize that the natural world, let alone human, is greatly cooperative. A long established forest is a network of growth above and below ground, and is highly interdependent. In the animal kingdom, the appearance of red in tooth and claw is about the necessity for survival, but below that there is such cooperation as is necessary for families of predators to survive and the predated to escape. The same is true in human society, and no business or community can survive otherwise. The purpose of that cooperation and how limited it is relates to the society it serves. At the extreme the citizenry are merely tools that serve those or the system in charge. Extreme individualism or autonomy is the least cooperative and prizes independence to a fault. Altruist democracy is overtly cooperative as is increasingly necessary not only locally, or in business concerns, but globally.
  • DingoJones
    What I'm asking is not what's objective about life expectancy, etc.

    I'm asking what's objective about "we should have x (re life expectancy, for example) as a goal."
    Terrapin Station

    I think he is talking about an objective standard, and not meant in the sense of mental/non mental per say. A standard created for reference, like a measuring tape.
    Also, your response to the OP is pure gold. Had a good chuckle as I read through it. In my mind your voice is Alan Rickman with a deadpan delivery dripping with condescension and sarcasm.
  • Terrapin Station
    Also, your response to the OP is pure gold. Had a good chuckle as I read through it. In my mind your voice is Alan Rickman with a deadpan delivery dripping with condescension and sarcasm.DingoJones

  • RW Standing
    Democracy: Until recently democracy in this country has been on the basis of representative government and not delegates, and not opinion polls. This has at least placed legislation in the hands of people who are probably concerned with social stability and play of opinion in parliament. There is now a growing use of polls or referenda to resolve stalemates in parliament. There is the probability of a referendum in N.I. to resolve the question of abortion. This country therefore appears to be in a state of flux regarding the nature of democracy and how practically to manage it. This is a fundamental issue and it is very risky to leave its resolution to random change.
    Assuming the validity of there being three directions of travel for society and one of these as increasing authoritarianism. The latter is not what is normally assumed as democracy with its root in demos. At the very least democracy should relate to the indeterminate value of freedom, but with this only realized as a form of society by the way that simple value is qualified by other values. [Not to mention various other sets of values] It can either be a corporate freedom within ‘altruist’ society. Or it may be a purely individualistic freedom of self-interest within a very minimalist society. The greatest folly would no doubt be simply making democracy a populist opinion poll that may be hijacked by any passing demagogue [Trump?] or even worse such a person as Hitler. The end result of that being a populace in happy servitude.
    The way our present rather intermediate form of democracy works, the Irish question is likely to be resolved by parliament deciding on what it will put in the poll as a form of legislation regarding abortion, and merely asking for it to be agreed in the poll.
    But all this pragmatism hides the underlying ethical question of abortion and the value of life. It should be clear that if we have a population that leans in three directions, it will influence how they vote. Some people will not give a hoot and will vote to get the matter settled. Others will be controlled by their religion and vote in the way they are instructed by it. Some more will be influenced by the values they see in their religion or philosophy. Others will believe in the right of individuals to act for themselves. Many will see the foetus as a growing person with commensurate rights. Others see the mother as having right over her own body in all its content. Some will assert the rights of both parents. And of course the term religion can hide the fact that it and the state may have the same voice.
    Assuming the three forms or directions of society. It would be foolish for a ‘democracy’ not to decide whether it is after all quite authoritarian, or it is in some degree altruistic, or it is in favour of more anarchistic self-interest.
    There is no great doubt about the ethic of altruism in this case, at least in approximation.
  • RW Standing
    Empower – Empowering: A term which is very popular today and would appear to be a positive emphasis on freedom. People are given the power to do things. As such it is the opposite of slavery or being forbidden anything. It is therefore subject to the same comments as is freedom. It is other values that denote what social assets are obtained. The person or community that is empowered must decide whether it is to move in the direction of cooperative altruism or in the direction of aloof autonomy or independence amongst other independent people and communities.
    It no doubt indicates having the power to claim rights. But in doing so the person or community must also agree on the duties or responsibilities it will adopt in relation to its rights. At the very least the duty not to interfere or encroach on others. That is to say, freedom and equality run together.
  • RW Standing
    Freedom – Pragmatism – Reductionism
    Reductionists tend to take particular values that they happen to like and extol them in isolation or with respect to particular things or objects that are favoured. As Social values freedom and pragmatism stand in conjunction with other values. It is the ethical purposes of freedom and pragmatism that need to be considered. Altruist society, as my model has it, is both pragmatic and free – which means according to the nature or rules of altruism. A society of autonomous individuals is also free but is barely pragmatic as a society – even though individuals may be pragmatic within their narrow horizons. None of this should be confused with that rambling structure called capitalism and free trade etc. In fact British society today is far more altruistic than hitherto. In perhaps a narrower sense of being cooperative, it is a prime value of the natural world, despite the appearance of being red in tooth and claw. Altruist society is the prime form of society for its pragmatism and regard for freedom. Altruism is a fairly modern term and we should not be pedantic about its original meaning.
    Of course, those who view the world and ethics from a purely individualistic view, and those who believe in ‘gods’ authority, may well construct ethical models to suit.
  • RW Standing
    Public Benefit, Social Benefit, Government Benefit: There are a vast number of naive or tendentious people in the world, asking for absolute or ‘right’ answers to moral conundrums, while yet we live in a world that is and will be far from perfect. An imperfect world has the greatest quantity of conundrums, and the most likelihood of only having only unsatisfactory answers.
    We have a current problem respecting an ambassador and confidential information. There is a large body of opinion that proclaims press freedom and free speech, while the government has to decide what should be lawful. The matter of Public Benefit is debated. If we were in some extreme degree of authoritarian society or state, then public benefit would be what is in the government interest to allow individuals to know. If we are not authoritarian, then the question really breaks into two. What is in the public or individual interest, and what is in the corporate social interest. There may be much that an altruist democracy can release for individual interest, having no social implications. In other matters, social interest may be severely damaged and therefore to be kept legally protected.
    Unfortunately government is naturally authoritarian to a degree, and it were better if social interest were decided by some other arrangement. We do have a fairly independent judiciary and high court. However imperfect the courts may be they are better than in many other parts of the world.
    But the answer to the original question is that we must be able to distinguish two sorts of Interest – three if public interest is foregone.
  • RW Standing
    Modern and Social Engineering
    A BBC documentary on LGB teaching at schools raised several questions. Quite apart from what is ‘right or wrong’.
    Firstly the terms old and modern are not ethical values, and can justify nothing ethically.
    To be modern and more effective for a morally ‘good’ purpose is quite another matter.
    Secondly, teaching at school and anywhere else is entirely a matter of social engineering.
    Even teaching maths, since it does that as a ‘good’ rather than not teaching the subject as a ‘good’.
    To teach that something should be tolerated is to say that it is not ‘bad’ which is social engineering.
    Thirdly, if every religion and its attitude to LGB should be tolerated in this country, then this country is divided between different ethical societies. Interreligious schools in that case cannot teach anything with respect to the subject.
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