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Ethics for a world in decline: Navagating dark roads

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posted on Jun, 19 2010 @ 01:59 AM
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I feel that people in the developed world are now facing the kinds of social crises that they have been able to avoid for decades. The breakdown (or "transformation," for the less doom-y among you) of various economic and social systems will place incredible burdens on human ethics, and it will call for very shrewd insights into ourselves and our behavior. Many will try sincerely to do the right thing and fail catestrophically. Others will shrug and give up their morality lightly, either with a pang of sorrow or a feeling of outright relief.

As the ground shifts out from under them, thoughtful people will struggle to decide what course of action they should take on every level. Should I bribe this guy just to get by even though I know that's wrong and we never used to do that in this country? Should I swipe this loaf of bread or let my daughter go to bed hungry? Do I owe my life first to my country or my family? And so on. Information systems, new financial issues, unanticpated dangers, security issues: all of these will demand moral acrobatics that few are prepared for.

I'd like to open a general thread on the topic of morality/ethics and the role of "decent behavior" in the darker societies we are seeing unfold each day before our eyes. There are many situations that have the potential to get very ugly, very quickly. Thinking on your toes will be called for. All will be tested and most will be found wanting, sadly, if history is any guide. Let's not be among them. How can we survive, protect our loved ones, and retain our decency as humans in a world gone mad?




posted on Jun, 19 2010 @ 03:29 AM
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This is one of the best things we can do in order to get through all this. -- We've already seen what wanton self-indulgence and lack of humanity can accomplish.

We have documented evidence, on top of video and audio, testimonies and day to day experience with this stuff. To act in that way is to pull the trigger on yourself and expect a different outcome; an outcome that maybe doesn't end in ruin.


It won't be easy. But I think we need to become extremely sharp in a very short amount of time. The best I can say is that we can't allow ourselves to be sucked into the mentality of "the strong live, the weak die" or "every man for himself", but we also can't sport the ridiculous notion of "everyone is my friend" "love all things". No, not everyone is living up to their potential, and so not everyone deserves such open consideration.


We have to be smart, but never forget our humanity. I spend most of my time studying a bunch of different subjects. I don't believe I'm prepared for anything that might come to pass, but I would hope that circumstances would permit, and that I would have enough strength to overcome without doing anything I should regret.


-----


Be smart. Be considerate.


Be human.



posted on Jun, 19 2010 @ 03:31 AM
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Many people will convince themselves that they are doing the right thing, but their version of doing the right thing only applies to people in their immediate faction. All others are to be used or eliminated, but that's okay, because their morals are locked into their priorities. We're a tribal people, and only if we are faced with a threat from beyond Earth that all of us openly acknowledge will we get our * together.



posted on Jun, 19 2010 @ 07:56 AM
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reply to post by silent thunder
 


Two steps in approaching this question:
1) general idea
2) specific examples

Vague ideas are great, but very hard to apply when it comes to the nuts and bolts of an actual in-your-face situation. And in the moment, one may not necessarily have the ability to thoroughly ponder these nuts or bolts, and so opt for a knee-jerk reaction. (Philosophy is truly a luxury when it comes to day-to-day survival...)

(My) General idea:
Following in the lines of Aristotle, find out the two extremes to give oneself a guide to determine one's best reaction.

(My) Specific situations (answers to the hypothetical ones given in the OP):

(Note: I'm going to chop off the "we never used to do that in this country" part because... well... this nation and it's people bribe others more than we'd care to think about.)

Should I bribe this guy just to get by even though I know that's wrong?
- Assuming that you've already got the money to bribe the man and the question is solely to give the money or not -- To side with Principle or not. If the man is behaving in a dangerous manner, then, obviously, give the money and keep moving. Basic survival, this Principle moves aside. If the man is not acting in a dangerous manner, then side with Principle and talk(?) your way past without parting with your money.

Should I swipe this loaf of bread or let my daughter go to bed hungry?
- If the daughter's going to die, there's no real question. If it's end-of-the-day and not starving hunger, then you have the option of talking with the owner of the bread -- perhaps a deal may be made, and you may provide some service (cleaning up the area, etc.) in exchange for the loaf. If the owner is not willing, then it comes to the parent's decision: To steal for hungry (not starving) daughter, or to leave the loaf and let her go hungry.

Do I owe my life first to my country or my family?
- If the general situation is one of dire financial strife, then I'd argue that patriotism may take a back-seat to basic survival. If the financial strife is not dire, then the decision of one owes one's allegiances lie is strictly up to the person themselves.


[edited for mis-grammatical-boo-boos]

[edit on 19-6-2010 by Diseria]



posted on Jun, 19 2010 @ 07:59 AM
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reply to post by silent thunder
 





I feel that people in the developed world are now facing the kinds of social crises that they have been able to avoid for decades. The breakdown (or "transformation," for the less doom-y among you) of various economic and social systems will place incredible burdens on human ethics, and it will call for very shrewd insights into ourselves and our behavior. Many will try sincerely to do the right thing and fail catestrophically. Others will shrug and give up their morality lightly, either with a pang of sorrow or a feeling of outright relief.


What is right and what is wrong. I can say that this struggle has been going on for thousands of years. We can say it how ever it makes sense to us. No one is perfect, everyone is a sinner, we all make mistakes, it doesn't matter how you say it. If we are not true to ourselves, we cannot be true to others.




As the ground shifts out from under them, thoughtful people will struggle to decide what course of action they should take on every level. Should I bribe this guy just to get by even though I know that's wrong and we never used to do that in this country? Should I swipe this loaf of bread or let my daughter go to bed hungry? Do I owe my life first to my country or my family? And so on. Information systems, new financial issues, unanticpated dangers, security issues: all of these will demand moral acrobatics that few are prepared for.


The journey of life throws many obstacles at people. Optimists and Pessimists always choose different paths.




I'd like to open a general thread on the topic of morality/ethics and the role of "decent behavior" in the darker societies we are seeing unfold each day before our eyes. There are many situations that have the potential to get very ugly, very quickly. Thinking on your toes will be called for. All will be tested and most will be found wanting, sadly, if history is any guide. Let's not be among them. How can we survive, protect our loved ones, and retain our decency as humans in a world gone mad?


Sadly, suffering is going to be a way of life for a lot of people, much as it is right now. Hope...is the only thing that will make it bearable.



posted on Jun, 19 2010 @ 02:14 PM
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That'd be awesome. I've got a ton of Peter Singer stuff I could find contribute. Just have to open up the old Singer shrine


Flagged



posted on Jun, 22 2010 @ 01:45 AM
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Thanks everyone for your comments.


One thing just occured to me: it seems to be a nearly universal ethical law that you don't do harm to somebody who has just done you a good turn. People who violate this are either sociopathic or extremely, extremely desperate. (I believe there is no ethical code so "innate" that there aren't people who flagrantly violate it). But for the vast majority, its almost a kind of "reflex."

One way to appraoch the whole thing would be to try to identify similarly basic "building blocks" of morality...things that are so basic as to almost be automatic for the vast majority.

This both simplifies and complicates things. Simplifies because it provides a language from which to build an understanding of morality in a "stripped-down" world. Complicates in that any reflex-like wooden morality will eventually run afoul of reality in some way and could even cause a larger evil in many cases.



posted on Jun, 22 2010 @ 07:55 AM
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What's ironic is that these last 50 years or so have been the epitome of human existence for people living in the developed western societies, with more than enough food, relatively safe working environs, a reasonable expectation of relative prosperity, and even the hope for financial success regardless of the cultural station one was born into.

Never before has there been such percentages of people living in secure and comfortable settings.

The world has always been mad, but this is the first period of time that it's been possible for anyone but the wealthy to comment on it - or even find the time to comment on it.

[edit on 22-6-2010 by NorEaster]



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