Thanks again to Michelle Ferrarese, Laura McCain, and Jess Piskor for a fascinating and challenging etcetera in February! If you are new to etcetera, check out our Facebook page (just click on the icon on the right side of the screen). We always post a series of quotes from the speakers to the conversation can continue. In addition, there will be an invitation posted on Facebook this weekend, complete with guest bios; please post it and share it with friends!
In preparation for this month’s meeting (Thursday, March 28, 7:00, at the Good Work Collective in Traverse City), I offer the following articles related both individual and societal ethics.
From an article from Santa Clara University, “What is Ethics?”:
“Ethics refers to well-founded standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness, or specific virtues. Ethics, for example, refers to those standards that impose the reasonable obligations to refrain from rape, stealing, murder, assault, slander, and fraud. Ethical standards also include those that enjoin virtues of honesty, compassion, and loyalty. And, ethical standards include standards relating to rights, such as the right to life, the right to freedom from injury, and the right to privacy. Such standards are adequate standards of ethics because they are supported by consistent and well-founded reasons.”
From Paul Kurtz’s article, “The Ethics of Humanism Without Religion”:
“These common moral decencies express general principles and rules. Though individuals or nations may deviate from practicing them, they nonetheless provide general parameters by which to guide our conduct. They are not absolute and may at times conflict; we may have to establish priorities between them. They need not be divinely ordained to have moral force, for they are tested in the last analysis by their consequences in practice. Morally developed human beings accept these principles and attempt to live by them because they understand that some personal moral sacrifices may be necessary to avoid conflict in living and working together. Practical moral wisdom thus recognizes the obligatory nature of responsible conduct.”
From “Professional Ethics Without Religion”:
“It seems that writers on professional ethics attempt to dissociate ethics from religion. There are philosophical reasons why this is not only bad strategy but fundamentally flawed logically. If each individual does not have an existential reason for being ethical, all the codes in the world cannot produce ethical behavior. This paper argues that a theistic presupposition is a sufficient, if not necessary, condition to supply the existential motivation.”
From the Huffington Post - “Needed: A New Approach to Ethics in Government”:
“Despite the best of safeguards, bad people will do bad things. There will always be bad apples. But bad barrels should concern us too, for rules will never be enough to shape the culture in government that tolerates at best — and fosters at worst — the unethical behavior of individuals and groups. Even some good people do bad things in unethical environments.”
From “The Moral Animal,” an editorial in the New York Times:
“We are in a position to understand why religion helped us survive in the past — and why we will need it in the future. It strengthens and speeds up the slow track. It reconfigures our neural pathways, turning altruism into instinct, through the rituals we perform, the texts we read and the prayers we pray. It remains the most powerful community builder the world has known. Religion binds individuals into groups through habits of altruism, creating relationships of trust strong enough to defeat destructive emotions. Far from refuting religion, the Neo-Darwinists have helped us understand why it matters.”
For those of you who have a little more time on your hands, here are the transcripts of two different debates. The first is a formal exchange, the second far more informal.