In Search of Ethics (ethikos) wrote,
In Search of Ethics

First Questions, redone

Subject: What are Values?
"The problem with you, is that you have no values", she said as he threw another can of beer into the trash at the other end of the trailer.

"No", he said, "The problem with you is that you don't like my values", and got in the pickup and drove to the recycling station to get rid of that stack of beer cans.

Values are esteemed qualities. Who gets to do the esteeming? Each of us must decide, at some point in our life, which of the polyglot of values we are assaulted with become our values. Re-inforcing values by teaching children is the Davidian Proverb 'teach a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it'.

I'm struggling to decide if there are any 'values' that can be considered generally applicable to all humans. However, at some level, the value of personal survival and the value of rearing offspring in a way that assures their survival seem good candidates.

But, I would agree easily to the notion, that all humans need some sort of values. It seems that these values underlie our actions, our sense of purpose if not merely our personal and racial survival.

These values, the things a culture supposes are esteemed or not esteemed, are the atomic makeup of both ethics and morals, one based on the needs of cultures and the other based on the religious ideas of a culture.

Subject: What are Ethics?
The word ethics' etymological roots betray it's meaning and intent. It stems from the greek 'ethos' which means 'character'. Ethics betray character in how one intwith ones fellows. The word refers to an agreed upon system of behavior that eracts reflects the values of a culture. It seems to me that ethics imply a consensus among people as to how the agreed upon values are to be incorporated into a value system.

Character, ones personal style of conforming to the needs of a complex society around one, is a way of describing a quality of choices. Do one's choices infringe upon others choices in ways that are

The kind of character esteemed by one, seems to be held in scorn by the other.

It seems to me, that ethics not only reinforce the local success of one institutions values, but that they also reinforce the continued conflict for other institutions.

This seems to be an extension of the inevitable conflict of self-interest, which is subsumed by the next larger unit of self: the institution.

Subject: What are Morals?
Morals are rules of conduct, that conform to some notion of 'good' and 'bad'. Good and bad are attributes humans apply to most everything in the world. Some of these things are more easily placed into these labels than other things. Borrowing from the theme I described in the values question, I would first proffer that something "good" would certainly be something that leads to survival, both of self, and of the institutions one might be associated with. Something 'bad' would likewise be something that led to personal or group danger and difficulty. However, even limited to the confines of self, something can be 'good' with regard to one concern, yet simultaneously bad in other. When one has multiple individuals united in some institution, that institution cannot possibly address both sides of any issue when confronted by a single person, much less the needs of multiple individuals.

I frankly struggle with the concept of right and wrong. It seems that institutions: tribes, countries, corporations, establishments and so forth, being interested in their survival, have a vested interest in controlling the systems of behavior so that future members have the values that are held in esteem by those institutions. If the institution is the McCoys, then you want to make sure that being all the little McCoys that come into the world understand how important those McCoy values are. If you are a Hatfield, then likewise, you want to impress upon all your offspring the value of being a Hatfield. Unfortunately both McCoys and Hatfields seem to have values in conflict.

I'm intrigued by the difference between morals, values, and ethics. It seems that values are the atoms of these ideas. Values get codified as 'right' and 'wrong' choices, often in the context of religion becoming morals.
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