This thread is an attempt to explain my personal concept of ethics. It has come about because of the number of ethics related threads that have come up lately, and the agreements reached by certain people in those threads. I am more interested in finding people who have objections to what I am about to say than anything else. -------------------------------------------------------------------- Quick Definitions: Subjective: What we all are. Experience, meaning, purpose and similar types of things are entirely subjective, and nothing else. Objective: The way things are. Subjective cannot experience Objective, because experience is entirely subjective. The Objective is the foundation of everything, because anything which is, is Objective. Abstract Because we have no indication that there is a universal subjective determinant controlling the application of Meaning, Purpose and Morality, we cannot assume such an entity into existence. Without such a guide we need to use the subjectivity we each experience and apply our own meanings and purposes onto the world we experience. When we do this, the vast majority of us will find that we all desire survival and companionship. These fundamental desires will cause the formations of communities. The larger the community, the more necessary it is for rules to be constructed to dictate how members of that society should interact so that the basic desires of every individual is best served. The set of rules which best fulfills these basic desires for any given community, can be said to be the best possible set of rules (for that situation.) These set of rules are commonly called "Law", and is infact synonumous with a Communal Ethics. The Formation of Society Without a God, we have no basis to make claims about universal meanings, universal purposes, or universal morality. Such concepts are subjective concepts, and hold no position in the Objective universe. As such, we are forced to assume that there is no inherent meaning in anything, and instead the only meaning that exists is the meaning that we, as individual subjective points of view place on the world we experience. "How we should live" has been a question deeply entrenched in philosophical thought since the begining of philosophy itself. For any answer that can be given the question though, it is easy to question it with "Why should we do that, and not the alternative?" This problem has plagued thinkers since the begining. I believe the key to solving this problem, is to remove the 'we' and start from the individual subjective point of view. Since meaning only exists subjectively, to give meaning to how one should act, it is necessary to take an entirely subjective point of view and claim the reasoning behind the why lies within 'Choice' of the subjective. When we as individuals choose things, it is not necessary to give reasons for our decisions. It may be interesting to figure out why we make the decisions we do, but it is not necessary. When confronted with the question of what it is that we as individuals want, two fundamental desires show up in nearly every single case (Normally as an understatement if not stated directly) 1. The desire to remain alive 2. The desire for companionship. These two primary desires lead to the formation of communities of people with the same fundamental desires. Individual Desire and Social Law In this section I will present a possible explanation of why it is that our own individual desires results in the creation of an 'ethical system' (Law, Rules of society), and justify the type of laws that result from this process. As individuals desiring company, the formation of a community is inevitable. We are social creatures by nature (apparently) and so a stable society is an essential part of our lives. If a society is unstable in any way, whether it be unstable due to the large scale deaths of the members of the society, or because the members of the society fear for their other prime desire 'Survival' and so leave the society, or if it is unstable because of any other reason which would cause people to stop interacting in a predictable way, then we will lose the second prime desire in our lives. A stable society is essential. For a society to be stable, a few obvious things must happen, and a few obvious things cannot happen. Killing of other members for example cannot happen, because that would quickly either result in no other members in the society, or else it would cause a fear in other members that they too could easily be killed, and so they leave. The possibility for members of a society to interact on some level must also be possible. These examples seem so obvious as to hardly be worth mentioning, but I am mentioning it simply because after these basic requirements are noticed, it becomes clear that 1. Rules must be set up which dictate guidelines for members to act within the bounds of and 2. The rules will get much more complex than they first seem when actually applied to daily life. The final assesment of the value of the rules that are drawn up rests soley on how well it achieves the ends of ensuring stability of that society, and how well it improves the chances of survivablity of the members in that society. The more stable the society, and the less threatened the social members are (fearful for their lives), the better the rules can be said to be. With any scale of comparison, there will necessarily be a 'best' and a 'worst', and so as an abstract concept, it becomes a truth that there is a "best" system of ethics (the rules, or the law) for governing any given society (when any given society is considered in terms of its size, its rate of growth, its interaction with neighbouring communities, and its situation in general.) Although i don't know it, I am sure that a measurement of the value of ethics could be summed up by an equation, and that equation could be simply applied to any situation. It is just unlikely that any human ever could figure out all of the variables, let alone how to measure just how well it fulfills the standards (survival + Stability). Having explained that the individual desire (as we experience it) will lead to the construction of an ethical system which governs the interaction of individuals as best as possible, it is an unfortunate side effect that the rules set up will very rarely suit any given individuals desires perfectly. Even the Best possible ethical system (best survival rate + Most stable) will still result in individuals who have desires unmet. Most of the individuals will accept this though, because they recognise the importance of the two prime desires over the other desires (for without those two desires, chances are, the other desires simply cannot be met anyway). On the odd occasion though an individual will find it unacceptable that a particular one, or a particular collection of their desires is unmet, and so they will act outside of the ethical system set up by their society. This individual, although acting perfectly within their own desires, is acting against the society, and so the society has the right to judge their actions. That person will either be punished, or removed from the society as deemed appropriate by the society. If the individual rejected the ethical system of the society, it woul dhave been more appropriate for them to have left, rather than to have acted outside the ethical system, while under the guiding eye of the common desire. The ethical system of any society should always be striving to be "The Best Ethical System" possible, but even if this is achieved, the fact remains, individuals will be individuals, and not everyone will be happy with the final ethical system (even if it holds their best interests as its prime directive). Conclusion Of course this becomes very complicated and the real world is a prime example of how "it isn't as easy as that", but this is a model for essentially how the system functions on a causal level. I believe this explains satisfactorily why it is that we have societies, where ethics comes from, why some ethical concepts seem accepted by every society on earth, and why two different societies can have completely different ethical views on the same topic. This also explains why the 'ethics' of a person conflicts with the 'ethics' (or law) of the society. (The person has desires which the society can't address, or isn't ensuring their faith in being always fulfilled (because of more important social desires) and so that person creates an 'ethic', a rule, a thing which 'Should happen' to achieve that desire of theirs, or satisfy their fear that this desire may not be fulfilled, and then they claim that the state is 'unethical'. In some cases the individual may be right, and their ethic, if implemented, would create a better social ethical system. In other cases, the individual may be wrong, and if their ethic was implemented, the society would be less stable. The only way we have to find out such things, is to test them out. Perhaps some really intelligent person might be able to figure out how to model such things on a computer one day, but I doubt it.