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Good Samaritan

  1. Dec 13, 2005 #1
    Good Samaritan
    I suspect that almost all of us would behave uniformly when encountering face-to-face with another person’s misfortune—we would all feel instant sympathy. We are born with ‘sympathetic vibrations’--we automatically tear-up in all the same situations. However there seems to be two broad categories of moral behavior in many social-political situations.

    We commonly perceive the ‘bleeding heart liberal’ and the ‘hard hearted conservative’. The ‘idealistic but foolish liberal’ and the ‘practical but reasonable conservative’. The individual who was a liberal when young and idealistic becomes the conservative, as s/he grows older and more realistic. The ‘nurturing mother’ attitude versus the ‘strict father’ attitude.

    In “A Theory of Justice” John Rawls seeks the principles of ‘justice as fairness’. Rawls assumes that we inherently agree on what constitutes moral behavior. He claims that if we all considered what to be the principles of justice while under a ‘veil of ignorance’ we would all agree. The ‘veil of ignorance’ constituted willful ignorance of our own specific social setting while considering what is fair. Willful ignorance means we ‘forget’ our status of wealth or ‘born-with gifts’ or social standing.

    Liberals take the stance that to agree on the fact means to agree on the morality of the situation. Any deviation is indefensible and reflects only selfish rationalization. Liberals find it almost impossible to respect the moral position of conservatives and conservatives find it impossible to judge that liberals are the intellectual equals of conservatives.

    The apparent reason for this disjunction is the fact that liberals and conservatives seem to have “their own kind of morality” according to the analysis in ”The Morality of Politics” by W. H. Walsh.

    “What we need to observe is that conservatives and liberals are working within different traditions of morality. The morality of the conservative is closed morality; it is the morality of a particular community. The morality of the liberal is an open morality; it is a morality which has nothing to do with any particular human groups, but applies to all men whatever their local affiliations.”
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 13, 2005 #2
    is the "veil of ignorance" really a non-ignorance of a "higher truth?"
     
  4. Dec 14, 2005 #3
    Same..

    The veil of ignorance indicates a trust that all humans recognize what fairness really means but of course for selfish reasons those concepts become distorted when considered in light of social position and wealth.
     
  5. Dec 14, 2005 #4

    DaveC426913

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    So, Conservatives are selfish bastards and Liberals are altruists. :rofl:

    From where I'm standing, the term "closed morality" in the sense they use it sounds like an oxymoron - a self-contradicting term.
     
  6. Dec 14, 2005 #5
    Dave--the name selection is not personal

    Captain Dave will under no circumstance torture a prisoner (open morality). Captain Jim will torture a prisoner when he considers such action will save the lives of his platoon (closed morality).

    “The two main concepts of ethics are those of the right and the good; the concept of a morally worthy person is, I believe, derived from them.” This quote and any others are from “A Theory of Justice” by John Rawls.

    In teleological (explaining phenomena by final causes) theories of ethics the good is defined independently from the right.

    The attitude of the individual is to seek the satisfaction of desire, more appropriately it is “the satisfaction of rational desire”. Many people find that society should be just an extension of this attitude. The good, for society, is the satisfaction of rational desire. The right is that which maximizes the good.

    Others in society reject this utilitarian view and find that the right comes before the good and embodies a boundary for the good. The right becomes a principle that has priority over the good. In the United States the right is placed in the Constitution and each individual determines the good.

    Captain Dave rejects the utilitarian view of morality (open morality). Captain Jim embraces the utilitarian view of morality (closed morality).

    Morality/ethics is a matter pertaining only to the relationship between subjects and thus there is nothing objective about it. All such matters are subjective and thus relative. Religion interjects God into the matter and thus makes it a matter of absolutes for believers.

    Many individuals think of the individual as constituted by the community to which s/he belongs—their value is dependent to a large extent upon the community. It is this interdependence upon the community that makes ideology so very potent. For the individual who embraces closed morality the ideological association is more important than to the person with an open morality.

    Good Samaritan


    I suspect that almost all of us would behave uniformly when encountering face-to-face with another person’s misfortune—we would all feel instant sympathy. We are born with ‘sympathetic vibrations’--we automatically tear-up in all the same situations. However there seems to be two broad categories of moral behavior in many social-political situations.

    We commonly perceive the ‘bleeding heart liberal’ and the ‘hard hearted conservative’. The ‘idealistic but foolish liberal’ and the ‘practical but reasonable conservative’. The individual who was a liberal when young and idealistic becomes the conservative, as s/he grows older and more realistic. The ‘nurturing mother’ attitude versus the ‘strict father’ attitude.

    In “A Theory of Justice” John Rawls seeks the principles of ‘justice as fairness’. Rawls assumes that we inherently agree on what constitutes moral behavior. He claims that if we all considered what to be the principles of justice while under a ‘veil of ignorance’ we would all agree. The ‘veil of ignorance’ constituted willful ignorance of our own specific social setting while considering what is fair. Willful ignorance means we ‘forget’ our status of wealth or ‘born-with gifts’ or social standing.

    Liberals take the stance that to agree on the fact means to agree on the morality of the situation. Any deviation is indefensible and reflects only selfish rationalization. Liberals find it almost impossible to respect the moral position of conservatives and conservatives find it impossible to judge that liberals are the intellectual equals of conservatives.

    The apparent reason for this disjunction is the fact that liberals and conservatives seem to have “their own kind of morality” according to the analysis in ”The Morality of Politics” by W. H. Walsh.

    “What we need to observe is that conservatives and liberals are working within different traditions of morality. The morality of the conservative is closed morality; it is the morality of a particular community. The morality of the liberal is an open morality; it is a morality which has nothing to do with any particular human groups, but applies to all men whatever their local affiliations.”
     
  7. Dec 14, 2005 #6
    Morality/ethics is a matter pertaining only to the relationship between subjects and thus there is nothing objective about it. All such matters are subjective and thus relative. Religion interjects God into the matter and thus makes it a matter of absolutes for believers.

    This view, that morality is subjective, presents a dilemma and associated problems. The two prevailing results are socially centered and theologically centered views of morality. In both these views problems arise in the interaction between opposing societies and religions.

    What is socially acceptable in not necessarily what is moral. If this were the case morality would be (and to some extent is) in a state of chaos. What is considered right/wrong in one society is almost always considered wrong/right by another; (and this unfortunate confusion applies largely to organized religions as well). So the question remains what is morality, why and who decides?

    Whether something is actually right or wrong, it’s ‘wrong’ for you if you believe it’s wrong. This is where reason and choice comes into the picture. Ask yourself why something is wrong and you will be on your way to developing a moral code. Morality is not applicable to planets or moons or rocks or bananas or the colors of the rainbow. Morality is the collection of the rules we use to govern our choices and consequently our behaviors. Whether you have taken the time to define these rules for yourself or not you still choose/act according to what you believe is right or wrong based on your values. By defining these rules we make them available for inspection and refinement and establish a basis for applying these rules to a wide range of applications.

    Objectively, morality stems from choice. Where there is no choice there can be no determination between right and wrong. Morality follows from what makes choice possible, a reasoning living entity. Morality then should be based upon the life and well-being of such creatures and how they can cooperate with each other in mutually beneficial relationships. The right or wrong of our choices and actions are ultimately determined by their consequences and outcomes so then reality is the final arbiter.

    Even if we believe something is right or wrong we still have a choice as to whether we do the right thing or the wrong thing. Our choices are influenced by our beliefs but we may not always do what we believe is right. The reason for this typically is that we sometimes hold two conflicting beliefs and find it necessary to act before this conflict can be resolved. This is why we need to choose our moral code carefully so that it is not only apparently correct but do able (livable) as well.

    A rational moral code is one that we all can live by and one that all reasonable, life respecting, people loving, people will choose to follow as well.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2005
  8. Dec 16, 2005 #7
    Dms

    Morality is a matter that has been discussed and cussed since humans were able to talk I guess. It is a matter for which rationality seems to be inadequate. I guess that is why religion moves in so easily to fill the vaccum.

    George Simmel (1858-1918). A pioneer in the field of sociology wrote “The Philosophy of Money”. I have been reading a small selection from this book entitled “Individual Freedom”.

    “The development of each human fate can be represented as an uninterrupted alternation between bondage and release, obligation and freedom.” “Each obligation that does not exist with regard to a mere idea corresponds to the right of someone else to make demands. For this reason, moral philosophy always identifies ethical freedom with those obligations imposed by an ideal or social imperative or by one’s own
    ego.”

    When reading I often record an idea that resonates for me. The following is just such a beautiful paragraph: “All men, like all nations, are tested twice in the moral realm: first by what they do, then by what they make of what they do. The condition of guilt, a sense of one’s own guilt, denotes a kind of second chance; men are, as if by a kind of grace, given a chance to repay to the living what it is they find themselves owing the dead.”

    “Follow the money”. For our purpose we might change this adage to “Follow the obligation”. Perhaps a good way to analyze ‘freedom’ is to analyze ‘obligation’.

    We might say that, at birth our ‘pie chart’ shows full freedom and zero obligation. Since this might be considered as a zero sum game: our parent’s ‘pie chart’ might debit freedom and credit obligation. Maybe this is not a zero sum game. Maybe debits do not have to equal credits.

    Do the dead still have a balance sheet in this game? Does the creditor or the debtor determine obligation? If they disagree what is the court of last resort?
     
  9. Dec 16, 2005 #8
    Morality places a special hardship on each of us as individuals in that rules we have found good and right for living our own lives can not be imposed upon those with whom we live and interact. So we are left to defend our own lives and rights and choose carefully how we enter into relationships with others where the moral code and personal defense necessary is not provided for by the society we live in.. The current state of our moral evolution leaves much to be desired beyond the ‘moral guidance’ of unearned guilt, sacrifice of the good for the sake of the evil and edicts devoid of any means for reasoned analysis, that religion has provided us with.

    Freedom does come with an obligation; that being personal responsibility for our own lives and actions. Most religions (and many secular beliefs) preach personal guilt and duty placed upon us by virtue of our birth. Such unearned and un-chosen obligations leave us wanting in our desire to fulfill those obligations that we have chosen.

    It is precisely a lack of rational good judgment in defining and choosing our personal moral code that leaves us with a sense of guilt and regret for actions we carry out without the necessary moral guidance. Personal responsibility entails taking responsibility for our actions and doing anything and everything we can to make reparations for mistakes we make whether it be because, as humans we are imperfect creatures or because, as individuals we have imperfect moral codes.

    Parental responsibility should never be considered a game although in reality it is often considered even less before taking it on. Fortunately many parents are aware that it is an awesome responsibility and are prepared to do their best to raise children that are aware of and able to take responsibility for their own lives when the time comes for them to claim their independence and freedom.

    For me, the court of last resort is the law and civil arbitration, which I can only hope, recognizes that human rights and freedom stem from human life and reason. Nevertheless, in the end, reality will determine whether the moral code we live by is right or wrong.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2005
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