Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

Ethics and Cultural Evolution

January 5, 2011

Ethics and Cultural Evolution

Ethics can be defined as the philosophy or science of moral values, duties and ideals of human character, motives, actions and outcomes. Moral behaviors or outcomes are those that conform to judgements in these realms about what is good or bad, right or wrong.

It is mind-boggling to contemplate the ethics of  individual actions. A higher-order vortex of complexity is entered when the focus shifts to the ethics of cultural design and evolution.

At either level the concept of good or bad, right or wrong, would at first seem clear to many. But when such matters are put to the test of close analysis, debate and consensus building, we soon encounter a conceptual morass from which there appears to be no escape.

For example, philosopher David Hume wrote:

“In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have remarked, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary way of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs; when of a sudden I am surprised to find, that instead of usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not…” 

Hume argued that it is not possible to derive moral statements of what ought to be from simple observations and descriptions of what is. Many would argue that this principle, which has been called Hume’s Law, separates facts from values in a way that places morality outside of the purview of scientific evaluation. I will shortly argue that moral values and behaviors can, and should be, submitted to scientific analysis.

Stand by for more!

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.   1/5/11

When “Human Capital” Is Not Enough

February 19, 2010

When “Human Capital” Is Not Enough

The development of human capital is commonly identified as one of the prerequisites to sociocultural and economic success.

Normally, building human capital is presented as educating our people in science and technology, as well as in marketable skills.

But something is missing from this modern conception and it is not a small thing: It is a suicidal  omission. 

The citizens of a socioculture that plans to live long and well, must also teach their children an accurate history of their own culture and a system of guiding ethics with which to maintain it. As importantly, these future citizens must also be taught to love and respect their own history and comply with societies moral/ethical guidelines.

In America, these critical ingredients of human capital  were once taught by schools, churches, families, Boy and Girl Scouts, and the like. Though it may be hard to believe,  America’s entertainment media once, long ago, also  provided a strong assist to teaching these form of social capital to our children and youth.

At the present  in Post-Modern America, who now teaches these ethical virtues to our children? It is not the schools, our government has greatly impaired that function. It is not the church, as families are much less intimately involved than they once were. It is not the families who are working two jobs or more,  reduced, reconfigured, geographically split, and who are often divorced into four parents and eight grandparents (or more). In this last problem “too many chefs” often spoil the brew. It is not in our other strong organizations dedicated to acculturating our youth in  the values and ethics of Americans.  Boy Scout and Girl Scout (also Cub and Brownie Scout) enrollments have been diminishing. America’s  entertainment media have savagely betrayed it’s parents and children to wreak moral and ethical havoc upon them.

Who is teaching our children the essential moral/ethical components of Social Capital in Post-Modern America!?

Thank God some folks are, but their numbers are diminishing.

If something is lost, the  most effective to way to  find it again is to retrace our steps to the place that we once possessed it. 

True, we cannot turn back time. But we sure as hell can begin to teach ethics and values as we  once did, even if we do it in many different and new ways. It is just a matter of  admitting the lethality of one of our own stupid oversights in America,  the will to work and sacrifice as a nation, and the drive  to survive in a very hostile world.

Many of us are wondering if we have what it takes anymore.

Our youth will probably  know the answer within their life-time.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.    2/20/10

Ahmadinejad on America’s Fate

September 26, 2009

Ahmadinejad on America’s Fate

In an Associated Press article entitled: “Iran Leader Blasts U.S, Capitalism”, Karin Laube describes Ahmadinejad’s speech to the U.N..

“Ahmadinejad portrayed Iran as a defender of poor countries, lashed-out at unbridled capitalism which he said has reached the end of the road and will suffer the same fate as Marxism.”

The main message is unmistakable. This meglomaniac dictator thinks that our way of life is all but on the trash-heap of history. O.k., what else would you expect him to say? We’re supposed to listen to this crazy man?! We’re supposed to listen to the man who repeatedly states that the holocaust never happened, etc.?!

But wait—did you notice the word “unbridled” when he refered to our doomed capitalism?

If capitalism is now unbridled, it must mean that it was once bridled by something. Could it be that Ahmadinejad has noticed something that we have not? Afterall, even psychotics can perceive fragments of reality.

In my opinion, what once “bridled” Capitalism (and also our Republic) was the more pervasive rule of ethics and morality. These ethics were based upon Judeo/Christian religious teachings. Of course the influences of these ethics was never perfect,  they were greatly more powerful than they are now.

Our Founding Fathers knew that our Republic could not last without a strong religious/ethical base. More recently, Thomas Sowell (the well-known Economist) documented the powerfully damaging effects of corruption upon the economies of Nations (see my recommended readings).

People, I am sickened with fear about crazy Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s prediction: “unbridled capitalism will suffer the same fate as Marxism.”

VTM, 0/26/09

P.S. The Associated Press article appeared in the 9/24/09 issue of the South Bend Tribune (Indiana).

P.S., I now detect that increasingly our fate may well be Marxism! (3/8/18)

 


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