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Ethics & Morality

  1. Apr 23, 2003 #1
    • Beagles, Macaques and Rats: Animal Experimentation
    • Stem Cell Utilization
    • Just Wars
    • LaVeyan Satanism
    • Deafness in Children, Choice?
    • Healthcare Costs and the Uninsured
    • Eugenics
    • Conjoined Twins: Jodie and Mary
    • Why Punish Attempted Murder Less Than Murder?

    A thread to discuss the meanings of ethics and morals proper, their respective values (if any) in society and lastly, one's opinion on subjects considered controversial. The above list contains suggestions for discussion. Feel no obligation to address the nine. Present your own dilemma, or solution to an ethical/moral controversy of your choosing.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 23, 2003 #2
    Should, as in the recent trial reported in the Miami Herald, a man be charged with double homicide charges when he kills a woman and her unborn fetus?

    The general public seem to say the unborn fetus was obviously a baby, and he should be charged with two murders. This raises the question of abortion, the unborn fetus could be as far long in the term as was the case when this unborn fetus was destroyed. If he is charged with murder then you must seriously look at the legality of abortion.

    If he is not charged with double homicide then that makes it possible for a man to walk up to a woman and kill her unborn fetus without being charged with murder. Where do we make the distinction between murder if one is the unwilling murder of a child, and the other is the willing murder of a child?

    The question is, do you think the man should be charged with the murder of the woman and her baby, or just the woman?
  4. Apr 23, 2003 #3
    More pointedly the issue is one of paraconsistent logic, which is increasingly utilized in the judicial system. The problem stems from the philosophical question of identity and the Sorites or Heap paradox. When do a few grains of corn become a heap, when does a mole hill become a mountain, when does a fetus become a human being?

    These are understandably contentious and, ultimately it appears, irresolvable issues for obvious reasons. Morality, a fundamentalist concept shared by both religious and secular fundamentalists, demands definitive answers. Ethics, on the other hand, do not. Ethics can be very personal and situational, but this is just not the case with morality which demands absolutes and rejects the relative.
  5. Apr 23, 2003 #4
    If you run over my dog, it is a crime. If I take my dog to teh vet to be put down, it is not.
  6. Apr 23, 2003 #5
    Sorry, but it ain't a crime or legal by definition unless a Judge or jury decides it is. In the USA you have a right to a trial by jury, but not to a trial by judge. Thus, juries have managed to find people guilty for the equivalent of putting their pets to sleep and not guilty for running over them.
  7. Apr 23, 2003 #6
    That is a terrible example! I can shoot a bird in my yard legally, so can I shoot a man legally too?, applying the same logic.

    Also, that dog is already born, so one can see the difference between a dog and a human. Because, in your example, you would conclude that:

    If you run over a person, it is a crime. But if you take that person to someone like Jack Kevorkian, then it is ok. Basically, the vet is assisted suicide, for animals. We can kill and eat animals, we can not kill and eat people.
  8. Apr 24, 2003 #7
    Eugenics: Completely immoral!!!
    The idea of "good blood" and whatnot is ignorant, and was formalized by people who lived in a biased and ignorant era. (Francis Galton came up with the idea of Eugenics, AND he was Charles Darwin's cousin)

    The point about the dog being run over is very good. It points out that crime is a catagory. Under what circumstances is an action a crime, and is it not a crime? Good questions to ask. Most of the criminal catagories we have today were made up in the 1930s by a sociologist(sorry, I don't remember the name) who was given the job by the govt, during the depression. Before he died, he actually felt REGRET about the job he did...
    note: there is NO catagory for corporate crime...

    But catagories shouldn't matter really, because we have a common law system, meaning we sue, and if a judge thinks we are right, there we have a law. Thats why its proper to sue whenever and wherever you see fit. The same goes about making actions illegal.
  9. Apr 24, 2003 #8
    Both woman and fetus are no longer alive. Something that once was is no longer. What will the courts (this one will go to the Supreme Court whomever wins) determine a life is worth? Will duration of life enter into the equation? The words potentiality, viability, uniqueness, and defenseless will undoubtably be part of the final ruling. I suspect this case will center around viability. Unfortunately, I see that as a mistake. I think the courts are hesitant to give a ruling that assigns any intrinsic value to a dead fetus.

    I would like to see a ruling that affirms life existed, was taken, and punitive damages are in order. I would be disheartened if the ruling focused more on determining the personhood status of the fetus. The way I see it, if life is somehow shown to be valued in the ruling every side wins in some measure. The pro-life people win because the word life is very important in their movement and the pro-choice people win because a fetus would not be called a person. Women could continue to abort non-persons without criminality.

    So, back to the question, which uses the word baby, the defense will not consider fetus and baby to be synonymous. A baby was not murdered the defense will argue. An involuntary act on the part of the woman resulted in the death of a fetus. Without knowing the particulars of this case nor Florida law, I could see the killer getting one count of first degree murder for the woman and one count of second degree murder with malice aforethought for the fetus.

  10. Apr 24, 2003 #9
    Depends. In Alaska, should your dog be running deer, it may be killed on the spot (local ordinances about area designation not withstanding). Likewise, during a rabies quarantine all unleashed dogs may be destroyed. Moreover, if the dog you take to your vet, who happens to be your sister, turns out to be the fiftieth such dog euthanized from your kennel in two weeks, one can bet an Animal Control Officer will be investigating.

  11. Apr 24, 2003 #10
    GlamGein, I happened to coincidentally come across this article, I thought you may find it amusing (or alarming).

    From the National Review July/2000:

    "Some day," said Theodore Roosevelt in 1910, "we will realize that the prime duty, the inescapable duty, of the good citizen of the right type is to leave his or her blood behind him in the world." In the same year, Winston Churchill lobbied for compulsory sterilization of the mentally handicapped: "I feel that the source from which the stream of madness is fed should be cut off and sealed up before another year has passed."

    Britain never did pass such a law, thanks to determined opposition from a libertarian member of parliament named Josiah Wedgwood. In America, however, states began to pass laws allowing mandatory sterilization. In 1927, the Supreme Court upheld Virginia's eugenic-sterilization law in Buck v. Bell. Carrie Buck, whom the state wished to sterilize, lived in a colony for "epileptics and the feeble minded" in Lynchburg, with her mother Emma and her daughter Vivian. After a cursory examination, Vivian was declared an imbecile-she was six months old at the time!-and Carrie was ordered sterilized to prevent her from bringing more imbeciles into the world. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes thundered that "Three generations of imbeciles are enough!" Compulsory- sterilization laws were thenceforth upheld in many states; more than 100,000 Americans were sterilized under them.

  12. Apr 24, 2003 #11

    Another God

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    Its perfectly legal for you to own a cow, slaughter it, and then eat it. It is not legal for you to instead keep the cow alive and just have sex with it.

    But legality and Morality aren't the same thing.
  13. Apr 24, 2003 #12
    Another God brings up a good point, morality and the law are not the same thing. I would add that the ability to sue people in court and challange the law often means little as well. It can be argued that these are merely control mechanisms that help prevent the system from frequently breaking down into total chaos as happened with Rodney King in Los Angeles.

    The law does revolve around morality and ethics, but they also revolve around the desires of the wealthy, the desires of the majority, and the necessities of life. Which one wins the day in any given situation is literally the source of gambling in the stock market. If you ever want to see a truly ugly side of the law study the supreme court's transcripts over native american rights from the 19th century.

    I live in virginia were twenty thousand children were sterilized for being born poor white trash. Recently the state appologized for its actions, but most of those children were already dead. The words ring hollow as they so often do in politics, "Do as I say and not as I do." Just another sign of the control mechanism function of propoganda. More important and to the point than the way corporations are treated legally, it is impossible to sue the courts, state, or federal government themselves without their permission.

    Hence, riots like the Rodney King riots and before those, rioting in florida when a two year old girl died from complications of malnutrition. The ultimate source of morality, ethics, and power is still demonstrably money, propoganda, and violence. For people like twenty thousand children sterilized in virginia, there is no morality, ethics, or justice simply because they had none of these things. They had no money, no propoganda, and insufficient numbers and organization to stand up to the state.
  14. Apr 24, 2003 #13
    Yeah, they are...both invented by people to deal with interpersonal situations.
  15. Apr 24, 2003 #14

    Another God

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    Doing the sme thing does not mean that they are the same thing.

    Its illegal for me to ride a bike without a helmet, but I'd hardly say that its immoral for me to do that.
  16. Apr 25, 2003 #15
    Thanks for that article!
    Here is a little more trivia for any interested party...
    Its also true that the U.S. govt had 10,000+ Native Americans sterilized against their will. In fact, Nazi ideas about Eugenics and "good blood" were based on U.S. laws.
  17. Apr 25, 2003 #16
    German ancestry also constitutes the single largest ethnic group in the US and has a great deal in common with the english culture as well.
  18. Apr 25, 2003 #17
    And your point is?
    If you are trying to say that the tendency to believe in oneself as the "master race" is inherent in german genealogy, then I think that you are mistaken. Many other races have had this superiority complex, such as the Japanese, and if I'm not mistaken, the Chinese. I think that it was pretty widespread in the European world that all white/hispanic people were "better" than blacks and native americans.
  19. Apr 25, 2003 #18
    No, my conclusion is the common cultural roots led to similar political actions such as attempted genocide of the Jews, Native Americans, and others. Essentially, fundamentalist attitudes are the commonality. Fundamentalism divides the world into black and white, true and false, good and bad and never the twain shall meet. Note that these are also the attitudes of classcial logic and science as well as Christianity, Islam, and in the case of Asians, their feudalistic cultural attitudes some have dubbed "collectivism".

    Around two thousand years ago the foundations of today's most popular sciences and religions all emerged simultaneous and most of what we are taught in history today reflects the constant fighting, blending, and evolution of these various forms of fundamentalism. Some, like Nazi Germany and extremely feudalistic Japan have proven particular aggressive.

    One fundamentalist commonality extensively studied among the Nazi heirarchy, for example, was the childrearing practices of their parents. As you might expect, they demanded absolute obediance and reinforced this demand by physically abusing their children. At the Nurenburg war crimes trials each and every one of these men repeatedly stated they were good soldiers who did their duty, no matter how odious. In fact, so conditioned were they to performing their duty without question that even though their superiors told them they could transfered away from the concentration camps to less cold blooded duties without penalty, virtually all of them declined.
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