Re: Dynamic ethics

From: Phil Goetz (
Date: Wed Jan 18 2006 - 22:02:53 MST

I'm having difficulty figuring out how a workable system of ethics is
any different from lumping ethics in with evolutionary ethology. Where
did the "ought" go?

I think one answer might be that, as a society, we consist of people
following various modifications of a basic human ethical code, and we
must work together although we disagree on ethical questions. An
understanding of how ethics work might allow us to structure the system
in a way that we agree will obtain better results. This is in the same
way that an understanding of political science enables people of many
different political parties to agree that a system of checks and
balances will obtain good results.

Perhaps an understanding of the meta-rules of ethics would also help us
evaluate our own beliefs. For example, in the US, change is rarely
effected by reasonable people. People with rational viewpoints are
rarely obsessed enough with any one thing to make the effort necessary
to bring about change in that thing. US politics works because it
allows dedicated, unreasonable, fanatical opponents to hammer out a
compromise that averages out to a moderate position. The actual
opinions of the reasonable moderate have little effect. Knowing this
might cause one to change one's actions, or at least to have less scorn
for people who are fanatical about one cause.

- Phil

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