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Understanding Culture and Ethics

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posted on Dec, 25 2012 @ 04:52 PM
I am fairly convinced that certain things can be attributed to cultural norms and have nothing to do with your actions being healthy or not (besides going against cultural norms). Actually, I'm certain, having moved from Washington to Idaho. It is extremely obvious.

For example, let's say you are a woman who moves from the United States to Iran and you speak freely, but get prosecuted. Whose fault is that, really?

It could be her fault because she chose to move there, but I'm saying there is an additional layer to the action / consequence scenario that has nothing to do with how healthy an action is, but the cultural norms of an area.

You can act exactly the same way in two different places and be revered in one and sent to prison or executed in another.

My wise friend says: It is still technically your fault, for not paying attention to the climate around you and choosing to act in a manner not conducive to one's own well being. He says karma is a law of reaction; one must always be aware of what consequences their actions can produce.

Smart man. However...

Well, that is true, but what happens when the culture you are in condones unethical behavior or behavior that is actually, in reality, unhealthy? At some point, you have to be able to stick up for yourself. You can't always be afraid to do something like speak the truth because of social consequences, or there would be no societal progress. I'm saying that cultural cause-and-effect is best when it aligns with reality.

Wouldn't you gain karma points if you helped overhaul a system from being unethical to ethical, even if it resulted in your death? Wouldn't you lose Karma points by participating in throwing acid on a woman's face in an Arab country because you were not able to stand up for yourself and against societal norms, even if it resulted in a promotion or enhanced social status?

This kind of thinking becomes pretty obvious once you start living in different cultural situations - you begin to notice how arbitrary it can be. If you live in one cultural zone your entire life, you can get tricked into thinking certain cause-and-effect relationships are universal, when, in fact, they are only cultural.

If you are Martin Luther King, Jr. and you are fighting for African-American rights, you are going to be assassinated. You are also going to be going against cultural norms. But don't you think he did the right thing and gained karma? These examples are real, they happen every day. It is because Martin Luther King, Jr. understood how to see beyond cultural norms to a better reality.

Let's say that you understand why a certain culture is unethical, should you seriously participate in it with full understanding of what you are doing? Would you even be capable of that? It might be different for someone living in the culture who doesn't understand a better way of life, but how could you justify someone following unethical cultural norms with full knowledge of what they are doing?

Does anyone understand what I am saying? Lately I've been posting some pretty decent stuff, but I think it is going over people's heads. Maybe I've gotten way too specialized.

edit on 25-12-2012 by darkbake because: (no reason given)

edit on 25-12-2012 by darkbake because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 26 2012 @ 05:58 PM
You seem to be conflating 'ethics' with 'actions that are healthy'. I don't think you are using your words quite properly, in that case.

posted on Jan, 5 2013 @ 11:42 AM
reply to post by darkbake

Maybe its not going over everyones heads. Maybe not everyone is that interested in karma?
Not saying this to offend you. Its just one of those subjects that goes round and round and gets nowhere.

posted on Jan, 12 2013 @ 07:48 AM
reply to post by LILY9

Ah, I'm not going to get offended. I appreciate that you read this and offered your opinion. I've come to the conclusion that my life experience is radically different than most people's, so I'm not surprised that people don't readily connect with what I find important : )

posted on Jan, 12 2013 @ 08:52 AM
reply to post by Stunspot

Ethics are social morrows, they define right and wrong social conduct. I think the OP was indeed attempting to state healthy, as in positivity productive and empowering consensual (or at least majority views) of good choices.

posted on Jan, 12 2013 @ 09:04 AM
reply to post by darkbake

Did you examined your logic by the reverse angle. That is examining how unhealthy decisions and courses can triumph ?

I do believe in karma as a action-reaction truism and in chaos theory. I think positive reformists get easily over their head and presume wrongly that the good is self-evident to all (or the majority), behaving even at times in a self-righteous ways that exacerbates the opposing reaction. Negative reformist act in the shadow and take their time. So the issue is more about visibility and speed of change than the deeds or local culture.

Culture can be changed, ethics is part of culture, good and evil are movable goal posts without no exact definition beyond that they are opposites. What is good for some is evil for others it is akin to liberty, one's liberty ends where the one of the others starts.

posted on Jan, 13 2013 @ 01:07 PM
reply to post by Panic2k11

Unhealthy courses in government can triumph for a while, but eventually, they are going to fall flat on their face and cause a ridiculous amount of ruin for those responsible along with a historical legacy of complete distaste.

Unhealthy life choices can result in the same.

posted on Jan, 13 2013 @ 01:51 PM
I feel that ethics are cultural construct (or can be an individual construct) with no universal or static aspects.

I do not quite understand everything you mean... when refering to "fault" ....? Are you trying to explore the pros and cons of adapting to the culture you find yourself in ?

I would say that if you choose not to, and there are consequences, then it is your responsibility- it was your choice. Unless of course you did not do it knowing it was against the local culture (on accident).
But even there, if you are travelling out of your own free choice, you do so accepting the risk of that....if you are not culturally sensitive, tourism might not be a good idea for you.

The culture shock I had to face when I moved from my homeland (USA) to France was really difficult. from our worship of individualism and paternalism, to the worship of social conscience and maternalisation... from independance to interdependance.... it took me YEARS to get a grasp on the ethics and values here, and longer to agree to integrate them. I could not work, or have a social life because I refused to adapt.

Now I try to adapt and play the social game as it is here, to the extent I can- but some of my deepest ethics and values just seem impossible to dislodge. I try not to stir the pot too much.

In a general way though, I find that the culture is a whole system, and all the parts work together.
I mean, where I think an attitude or practice is wrong, if you change it, it has detrimental effects that I wouldn't expect.

A good example is the often posted on boards story of how a teacher taught a class of kids what is wrong with socialism by giving all the kids the same grade (the average) on a test. The story goes that the first time, some kids tried hard, some didn't at all. The second time, nobody made any effort at all because those that usually did saw their efforts would not matter and be pulled down by the slackers.

Now this is exactly how it woud happen in our country, because of our other ethics. Such as- do not give in to peer pressure, it is always bad. Always be an individualist. Search only to gain money or reward from your teacher, boss, or other authority figure. trying to gain the respect and acceptation of your equals is bad.

See, in this country (which has a capitalist economy but is higher on the socialist scales in culture and tradition), the kids would do differently. The ones who worked hard would strongly criticize the slackers and threaten them with rejection from the group if they did not make more effort. Those kids would feel very motivated by that and submit to it, doing better next time.
Because they were raised with ethics and values which taught them- never search to please a single authority figure, but the collective as a whole. Search to rise to positions which provide valuable service to your society (why the higher grade would be valued). Seek at all costs to conform and fit in with your peers, in solidarity, in order to form a strong force and protection against egotistical individualist authorities.

If you do this sort of "equality" thing in one place, it can have detrimental effects....if you do it in another, it can have beneficial effects.

If you go to another country, and decide you want to influence a major change, I would say, make sure you study the dynamics from every angle before you do!

One example, I like the socialized medical system here. But I d not think it should be done in the US... or at least for many years, because a major cultural overhaul would have to happen first for it to work.

posted on Jan, 13 2013 @ 04:31 PM
reply to post by darkbake

I agree but that assertion is only valid is the corruption fails to be turned into the norm. Corruption tends to spread. I believe that what has been keeping things to really fall apart faster is that older nations do have an historic context that protects them, lets use your example and call it maturity, but numbers are extremely important . The new freed Soviet satellites are fertile ground, as the undeveloped African nations.

We need also to consider that Alphas get bonus in regards to other pack members wanting to emulate them, then there is the issue of monopoly in the use of its voice, when the alpha speaks everyone else listens (media control).

posted on Jan, 13 2013 @ 04:52 PM
Interesting post - this topic has always interested me, though I've usually come at it from a slightly different slant. Clearly (to me anyway :-) there are some ethics that are purely cultural, and even situational. Are there not some universal ethics, though, that transcend culture? I believe there are. I am sure I could not document them, and as soon as I tried, someone could come up with a counterexample which could reflect a flaw in how I documented it or perhaps reflected a situational variation that I didn't think of, rather than necessarily a flaw in the idea of universal ethics itself.
I've actually never thought of it in the context of "getting karma points", but now that I do, I think that if one believes in karma, there must indeed be a set of universal ethics that may be consistent or inconsistent with various cultural ones.

posted on Jan, 16 2013 @ 04:20 AM
You totally get what I'm talking about here. There would be universal ethics that transcend cultures, and I think those would be like laws of physics, except for interactions between two or more people. Although these laws would only dictate cause-and-effect and not moral value,

The laws could then be used to determine the most positive outcome for the individual and groups of individuals, and that would be a good candidate for universal morals.

edit on 16-1-2013 by darkbake because: (no reason given)

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