Friday, June 19, 2015

Battling Moral, ethical constructs

The moral/ethical argument is frequently used in social and political debates. I would posit that those words
lack any universal meaning, rather simply being lazy emotive justification, falsely negating need for more substantial reasoning.

The rise of failed seminarian, Tone Abbott, to Prime Minister of Australia bout the ‘morality’ augment firmly into Australia’s political discourse, though like other countries it has long been present.  The frequency the concept is used by or against Abbott, in national debate, makes it an ideal candidate for a drinking game, but does it really explain anything?

Moral and ethical are, to a great degree, interchangeable words, the former preferred by the religiously inclined the latter by the academic mind. But both words represent constructs of good and bad in the mind of the user and indeed the minds of the receiver. If I have definitions of morals, and being ad hoc constructs I use the plural, they would not always accord with your definitions.

That is right, ad hoc and worse, inconsistent. Look at the evidence: Te pro-life movement holds that abortion is immoral, yet they argue that welfare to help feed children or the death penalty are morally justified. That is, it’s fine to kill people, just not foetuses.  The aforementioned Abbott holds it is morally reprehensible to allow people smugglers to put people’s lives at risk, but wholly acceptable to pay money to those same people to take the leaky boats back out to sea.

Is there an alternative to moral/ethical imperatives?

Of course, but like life doing things the right way is not likely to be the easy way. To have a consistent system to moderate social/political decision making would mean being willing to the slew of prejudices we have been fed from birth and replace them with facts, evidence based facts.

There is a truism, an erroneous one as it happens; ‘ignorance is no excuse under law’. The law is a poor analogy, as it has developed beyond the ability of ‘everyman’ to comprehend, which is a consequence of the faulty morality dynamic. Ignorance can be countered, to a great extent, by having an ‘evidence base’ as a consistent platform for all our thinking and behaviours.

Of course we, as individuals don’t need any more ‘in depth’ knowledge of fact than we currently do of the mass of moral imperatives. The fundamental facts on any issue can be, and often are, readily available for those who seek out the evidence. True they often conflict with entrenched belief, but the beauty, the evidence of their value is consistency.

There is another problem facts present to a humanity often scare of ambiguity; fact can change as we learn more. Yet the fact is, life is ambiguous. We need to teach and learn that there can be a real joy in finding our firmly held views were wrong, and in changing them. It just comes down to breaking the lifelong habits of some seven billion humans.