Universal ethics?

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posted on Aug, 8 2008 @ 10:33 AM
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I've been interested in the idea of "universal ethics" or "universal morality" recently.

This is the concept of morality or ethics that can be said to apply to EVERYONE on earth, regardless of culture or religion or whatnot.

I'd be interested to hear any of your theories about this. For example, do you think such a code of ethics could even be formulated? If so, what kinds of propositions or structure do you think it would have? What, if anything, are the aspects of such a code that all humans could agree on?

I am operating under the assumption that such a code goes beyond any specific religion or cultural background. It wouldn't matter what religion you believed in, or even if you were an athiest. So although some people would probably say "Christ is the universal king and his way is the way for all mankind" or "Such a code has already been set down in the Koran," etc., I would hold that these kinds of attitudes totally misunderstand the idea of universal morality as I am positing it. Frankly, in addition to finding them close-minded, I find such arguments wearisome and boring so I hope we can avoid them here and simply reach for something much more basic that would apply to Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Athiests, Agnostics, Democrats, Republicans, and everyone else.

Bonus points if you want to extend the concept of "universal" even beyond humanity to all possible life in the universe, intelligent or otherwise....




posted on Aug, 8 2008 @ 10:43 AM
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A lovely thought but I don't see it happening. Human beings vary in their belief systems and they are not going to follow anything else. I have seen people hold on to such things as superstition from their religions. Look at some who believe in killing in the name of God etc.
Morals are morals but people have their own interpretation of them.



posted on Aug, 8 2008 @ 11:22 AM
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Here are some rules that should (I think) apply to everyone everywhere.

Every person has the inalienable rights outlined in the US Bill of Rights. That would be

freedoom of/to
-the press
-speech
-assembly
-petition
-keep and bear arms

freedom from
-quartering of troops
-unreasonable search and seizure
-double jeopardy, self incrimination, eminent domain
-excessive bail, cruel and unusual punishment

protection of
-due process
-trial by jury, public trial, speedy trial, right to counsel
-rights not specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights

Sentient beings are also born with the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I would also add that no entity - singular or organized - may infringe on any of these rights unless the person these rights belong to has waived one or more of those rights by commission of a crime.

None of these rights has anything to do with any religion or outside force because they are innate and natural to any person born. What more is there?



posted on Aug, 8 2008 @ 11:52 AM
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Regardless of any realistic viability to be embraced or imposed upon others, universal ethics can and frankly should be defined.

I don't recognize, however, the notion of defining such ethic could fall on any one entity or organization. We sought this from God/gods, Ideological movements, and even Political apparatus. All have failed to prove transferable between peoples.

There are cultural boundaries that we have set up, constructs of our own belief systems to consider. There are also communication barriers and perceptual differences defined by circumstance. It would be no small accomplishment to garner a 'universally acceptable consensus of peoples' on the matter.

Ethical constructs are really the foundation of the rights and privileges all individuals can claim as universal. Rights are reflections of these ethics in societies. The key to developing ethics that are universally applicable will impact the rights and privileges (self-perceived) of those holding to them.

Many qualify the rights they propose because of the above-mentioned constructs. But then, if it can be waived, or it can be overridden, doesn't that disqualify it as a true 'inalienable right?' Logic dictates that any right which can be so modified is not in fact a right, it is a granted privilege.

Ethic also will determine the social contract each person MUST accept with their environment. If we truly accept that we cannot kill someone, we cannot then wage war, we cannot exercise lethal force under ANY circumstance. We as a species have long accepted that violence, for example, is conditionally acceptable. The judgment of it's acceptability is not consigned to the person inflicting the violence, it automatically implies an external evaluation must take place.

It seems that ethics then, is a social construct in and of itself. If we accept that axiomatically, we must determine if we are willing to recognize the existence of societal differences that would allow for different' non-universal ethics, and are they to be honored, or dissolved by the force of 'popularity.'

Until we can define ourselves as a single society, we would not be able to define a single ethical/moral construct to guide our actions. Yet commonly, peoples adhere quite fervently to cultural or national identities. The effort to eliminate that by force, or social evolution is necessarily going to figure in this debate, such as it is.

There are few constants in the different societies of the world.

The right to exist independently of the will of any outside controlling entity would have to be foremost on the list. We we all religiously to embrace that single ethical/moral ideal would eliminate virtually all conflict at the political level, rendering the 'popularity' of any ideological form impotent.

I hold that we would also have to redefine the paradigm of some of these constructs. For example, I don't believe "Free Speech" should be considered a right - I believe it should be considered a responsibility and a duty. The form of the culture/society/government or whatever should be to ensure that the responsibility to engage in and promote free speech is always prevalent in the affairs of daily life. No voice should be disregarded or squelched under any circumstance ever. That, of course, would render state and commercial 'secrecy' a thing of the past however, and one of the most important maxims that 'knowledge is power' operate contrary to that precept.

We have a long way to go before we can claim a selfless commitment to such a policy. People seek gratification, validation, acceptance, and admiration. Given that those are the 'ends' toward which man commonly strives, what 'means' will be considered morally or ethically acceptable?

And that's just one example. If we are to examine all such things, this thread is destined to grow into biblical proportions.



posted on Aug, 8 2008 @ 12:13 PM
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Originally posted by Maxmars

Until we can define ourselves as a single society, we would not be able to define a single ethical/moral construct to guide our actions. Yet commonly, peoples adhere quite fervently to cultural or national identities. The effort to eliminate that by force, or social evolution is necessarily going to figure in this debate, such as it is.


I agree wholeheartedly. Until people as a whole see themselves as one single society, people as a whole will not accept any universally binding law as applicable.

But, I don't think that different cultures need to be eliminated per se; rather the 'laws' that are contingent upon cultural identity. For example, under my idea of universal morality, most Muslim marital rules would be completely done away with. No more acceptance of wife beating (not even just a little smack that doesn't leave a mark), wife killing, honor killing, or the killing or maiming of anyone as a tenet of society. That is one such culture that would be getting a major overhaul.



posted on Aug, 8 2008 @ 12:44 PM
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Originally posted by sc2099

But, I don't think that different cultures need to be eliminated per se; rather the 'laws' that are contingent upon cultural identity. For example, under my idea of universal morality, most Muslim marital rules would be completely done away with. No more acceptance of wife beating (not even just a little smack that doesn't leave a mark), wife killing, honor killing, or the killing or maiming of anyone as a tenet of society. That is one such culture that would be getting a major overhaul.


My cultural background is also opposed to such standards as those I hear of coming from the Muslim world. But the fact is they (like many other cultures) reserve the right to decide upon such matters for themsleves. I would expect that perhaps many generations from now, they themselves would cease to find such behavior acceptable, assuming they eventually recognize that gender is not a legitimate excuse to disenfranchise another human being. In likewise fashion those in the west must cease to accept that material wealth is a measure of any human being's right to exercise their free will. There are many influences in both cultures resisting such changes, or nearly any fundamental change for that matter.

Perhaps the day may come when we, as a global population can cherish each other. But such lofty sentiments are lost in a world where each ego is more important than anything else that ego can recognize.





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