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Thread: Original sin

  1. #261
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    1) Perhaps if you had read my previous post, you might have noted that I also don't believe in "original sin"! I read the original sin story as an "originary myth" for free will and accountability. So all of you inveighing against the Christian doctrine of original sin is actually misdirected, and is also rather parochial: you're taking one particular type of Christian belief and assuming it is ALL of Chrisitian doctrine. Perhaps you should familiarize yourself a bit more with the richness and variety of the tradition before passing judgment.

    2) Please tell me how "pragmatic" and "theoretical" are necessarily mutually exclusive? Every practical application requires theoretical underpinning. Every kind of technology, for instance, requires theoretical scientific understanding coordinated with observation, experiment and application. So your divorcing the two activities from each other seems incoherent.


    3)I agree that people ought to be judged innocent until proved guilty. As far as assuming ill-intent, you're confusing several things: first, Christians who hold to a literalist notion of Original Sin would still not believe that blame is to be assigned to people in every individual case, but that the circumstances of each case would have to be weighed individually. Otherwise, Christians with such a belief could not serve on juries, for instance. Second, as I said above, not all Christians are literalists. It's a much richer, more sophisticated tradition than I think you're giving it credit for being.

    4) If we can never know intent, then we could never know any of the things you mention about the manager's state of mind. Of course we can know intent to the extent that we can know our own state of mind and can know others' states of mind. As far as others' mental states, our knowledge isn't perfect, but it's not like we have no knowledge at all. Legal theory has a concept of mens rea, which triers of fact can come to be reasonably confident about. Not perfect, but not groping in the dark either, like most human knowledge.

    That's one interpretation of the Genesis story. There are others.

    5)Corporate or collective responsibility is a good point but has no bearing on meta-ethics. Neither do any of your other points. I think you're letting yourself get confused by different kinds of things. There are many factors in the mix but complexity is not really the point meta-ethically. The complexity lies on a different logical level of description. What is the wrong or right-making feature of an action? Sometimes philosophy requires that a decision be made.
    1) As a Muslim, Thomas Aquinas is interesting ---particularly as he has borrowed some ideas from Muslim philosophers---what is your opinion on his thoughts on ethics?

    2) Theories have to work (provide solutions) in the real world for them to be useful. The pragmatic aspect and theoretical aspect have to be complementary. But we have to concede that without assumptions of a world-view/metaphysics there is no firm framework for metaethics. Metaethics have to flow into and impact normative ethics....Ideally, these 3 aspects should complement to create a whole.

    3)innocent until proven guilty---If we add God to the mix in our discussion...then intent---unless articulated in some way, is known 100% only by God. While human beings are completely and solely responsible for their actions...(unless they are a minor, mentally incapable, or under duress) the consequences of that action can be partially random---dependent on luck/fate/karma/God"s will....Therefore, when considering intent+action+consequences, The heaviest consideration would be on intent, then action, then consequence....but intent is not fully known except by God---which leaves human beings with mostly action to consider. That is why the benefit of the doubt must be given and a person is assumed innocent....because human justice is limited.

    4) Mens rea---Our Justice systems have some good tools they can use....but law today, is somewhat divorced from ethics/metaphysics. What if it were not?---what sort of ethico-moral system could we envision if metaphysics, metaethics, and normative ethics were part of the social and legal philosophy and practice?.

    5) I am using the term Metaethics somewhat loosely....Suppose we agree that human beings have a right to wealth/property, therefore a corporate policy of maximizing wealth is not wrong. If we assign more weight to the values of rights to liberty and life than to wealth/property...then we can conclude that a corporate structure that emphasizes the right to wealth/property at the expense of liberty and/or life becomes more wrong than right. Capitalism is an economic system based on the right to wealth/property and this has led to exploitation of both resources and humans. Should we not create ethico-moral systems that facilitate (and reward) ethcio-moral behaviors so that it becomes easier for individuals to make right ethico-moral choices?

    What is our opinion of Rawls theory of Justice? (veil of ignorance...etc)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Theory_of_Justice

  2. #262
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by siam View Post
    1) As a Muslim, Thomas Aquinas is interesting ---particularly as he has borrowed some ideas from Muslim philosophers---what is your opinion on his thoughts on ethics?
    I don't know enough about it to comment. I know he was heavily influenced by Aristotle and his Nichomachean Ethics. Glancing at the SEP page, it seems that it has a number of problems.
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/a...ral-political/

    2) Theories have to work (provide solutions) in the real world for them to be useful. The pragmatic aspect and theoretical aspect have to be complementary. But we have to concede that without assumptions of a world-view/metaphysics there is no firm framework for metaethics. Metaethics have to flow into and impact normative ethics....Ideally, these 3 aspects should complement to create a whole.
    Of course. All of that is a given.

    3)innocent until proven guilty---If we add God to the mix in our discussion...then intent---unless articulated in some way, is known 100% only by God. While human beings are completely and solely responsible for their actions...(unless they are a minor, mentally incapable, or under duress) the consequences of that action can be partially random---dependent on luck/fate/karma/God"s will....Therefore, when considering intent+action+consequences, The heaviest consideration would be on intent, then action, then consequence....but intent is not fully known except by God---which leaves human beings with mostly action to consider. That is why the benefit of the doubt must be given and a person is assumed innocent....because human justice is limited.
    To extend your theological observation, nothing is fully known except by God, so that point isn't terribly illuminating. We can bracket that point. Think of the well-known problem in defining the term "human action"! And think also of the impossibility of ever fully knowing the ramifications of any action in terms of its consequences. So none of the three terms you list can ever be fully known. We are finite beings with finite epistemic capacities who can only work with what we have short of divine revelation. This applies to every field of human endeavor, so we can set this point aside, right?

    4) Mens rea---Our Justice systems have some good tools they can use....but law today, is somewhat divorced from ethics/metaphysics. What if it were not?---what sort of ethico-moral system could we envision if metaphysics, metaethics, and normative ethics were part of the social and legal philosophy and practice?.
    Justice and legal theory is built to some extent on a foundation or background of moral and ethical tradition. It's not systematic but more in line with social and cultural norms.

    5) I am using the term Metaethics somewhat loosely....Suppose we agree that human beings have a right to wealth/property, therefore a corporate policy of maximizing wealth is not wrong. If we assign more weight to the values of rights to liberty and life than to wealth/property...then we can conclude that a corporate structure that emphasizes the right to wealth/property at the expense of liberty and/or life becomes more wrong than right. Capitalism is an economic system based on the right to wealth/property and this has led to exploitation of both resources and humans. Should we not create ethico-moral systems that facilitate (and reward) ethcio-moral behaviors so that it becomes easier for individuals to make right ethico-moral choices?
    I would hesitate to accept wealth/property acquisition as a basic moral right. For one thing, not all societies even have such a concept as personal property. For another, it seems to make more sense as a derivative of a more basic right of justice and personal liberty. I have the rights to the fruits of my own labor and to those fruits that have been duly bequeathed to me by others and the liberty to discharge them as I see fit as long as that discharge does not interfere with others' rights to do the same, and so forth. If we see property and ownership as derivative of justice and liberty, then it's no longer an unfettered, social Darwinian end-in-itself as "market fundamentalists" would want to see it but existing in tension with the needs and rights of others.

    What is our opinion of Rawls theory of Justice? (veil of ignorance...etc)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Theory_of_Justice
    I think it's a good starting point as a corrective against utilitarianism, but it has its problems. What result you get from behind the veil can depend on what values you have going in.
    Last edited by Jim B.; 11-29-2019 at 01:21 PM.

  3. Amen Soul Anchor amen'd this post.
  4. #263
    tWebber
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    Greek ethical philosophy---Islamic philosophy has been influenced by Greek thought. For example the concept of "natural law/natural rights". Nature is considered as a revelation by God....(as is the Quran.)
    But...Nature and its ecosystems "flourish" in diversity rather than homogeneity---for example, the more genetic diversity, the more the species will have a chance to flourish, and less genetic diversity can push it towards extinction.....likewise, I am beginning to wonder if more human diversity (pluralism) of ethico-moral philosophy is perhaps more beneficial---and if so what underlying structure it should be based on to make sense......

    Generally ethics has been designed around questions of right/wrong, what is good/bad and concepts around human flourishing and common good. Underlying all this is an assumption of the universality of some core "values". Can ethics be designed and conceptualized differently?

    Metaphysics---Our understanding of creation, human nature, and human purpose can color/bias our formulations of metaethics---a diversity in metaphysics thus creates diversity of metaethics which then bleeds into normative ethics.
    The Quran has 2 interesting insights on ethics---as individual human and as collective human group
    2:148 To each is a goal to which God turns him; then strive together as in a competition towards all that is good....
    5: 48 ...To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way. If God had so willed, he would have made you a single people, but his plan is to test you in what he has given you so strive as in a competition in all virtues.
    Thus, perhaps a diversity of ethical systems competing against each other may be a good way towards finding those systems that work best for humanity as a whole as well as the human individual....?.....as in an experiment?...

    iac---If we take the manager scenario---the only 2 observable things is action (the promotion) and the consequence (death). Since we cannot know intent unless confessed or some evidence points to ill-intent, one must assume the manager innocent of ill-intent.
    However, regardless of good-intent, because the consequence is heavy (life) some balance seems to be required---a measure of remorse and rectification. As humans we are both individual and social---therefore ethics needs to be about both the individual human character as well as the system/environment the human occupies. Systems need to facilitate human ethical development and human ethical development in turn facilitate better systemic ethical development.....Our political, social, economic systems all need to be built on a unifying metaphysical foundation so that the different systems don't clash but work together as a whole....

    Basic human rights---The different worldviews/metaphysics can generate different combination of values. And property/wealth may, or may not be a basic right. In Islam it is a basic right--because with rights come responsibility/obligation and tools for the distribution of wealth fall under the responsibility/obligation of this right. Therefore, one has the right to acquire profit but with it comes the obligation to charity. Thus, a corporation that acquires a profit has the obligation to the wholistic welfare of its employees---a non-zero sum (win-win) cycle. The physical, mental and financial prosperity of the employees results in prosperity for the corporation.--If the politico-economic system is also ethically aligned to a whole. On the other hand---if an economic system is not aligned to a wholistic ethical worldview...then it will come into conflict with ethical solutions that turn into temporary band-aids plugging in an unbalanced system.

    Rawls brings in ideas that can perhaps help re-visualizing ethics from a different perspective than the traditional Greek based ideas?
    another idea is a values based (Maslow hierarchies) understanding of human actions...
    http://www.cultdyn.co.uk/ART067736u/..._change_1.html
    What is interesting in this concept is to chart various values in order to come up with a visual that explains human/community aspirations.

    As you mentioned---the reality is that rights and obligations or needs are often in tension with one another---which is not a bad thing, as this tension can be a good tool to create balance. When a group of core values that are in tension, are used as tools to create balance...perhaps we can have a diversity of ethical systems that are nonetheless grounded in clear, transparent group of values.....

  5. #264
    tWebber
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    What I understand Rawls to be saying is that here is a proposal of how to get around clashing metaphysical doctrines, or as he calls them "comprehensive doctrines." Here is a proposed way of creating a public space in which competition is held in abeyance, where people can check their metaphysical doctrines at the door, so to speak, in order to enter a civic space where they can enter into civic and civil dialogue with each other and create constructive solutions to problems they all face. So if I understand what you're saying from the Quran, it's not that idea but its opposite. Rawls is saying "Here's a way around sectarianism and tribalism, a way to procedurally transcend our traditional commitments in favor of a broader ecumenical engagement."

    I wasn't aware that the Greeks addressed the question of natural rights, or were you referring to Islamic thought? Ethics has addressed questions of right/wrong and good/bad, but the Ancients also emphasized how to live, and what kind of person one should strive to be. (Organizing society starts to get into political theory.) Virtue ethics was a bigger deal to them than to us, overall.

    There have been many competing ethical and metaethical theories, which is a good thing, just as there have been many competing theories in economics, physics, etc. But that alone doesn't mean there isn't a fact of the matter, and that one of the theories may be right or may be more adequate to the truth than all the others! Diversity alone tells us nothing about such matters.

    A problem we might be encountering is that you are a Muslim and from what I understand, the Quran purports to be the direct word of God and also purports to cover ALL aspects of life, so whereas I would be dealing with metaethics you might be dealing more with theological interpretation, although I may be wrong.

    If there are certain truths that are not open for negotiation and not open for 'balance,' ie that a human life has intrinsic value, that pleasure and happiness are intrinsically good and excruciating pain and misery and the torturing of infants intrinsically bad, then we don't have to agree to a comprehensive metaphysical framework that is the same for all of us or even coherent in order to have a rational metaethical foundation to build on.
    Last edited by Jim B.; 12-02-2019 at 07:29 PM.

  6. #265
    tWebber shunyadragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by siam View Post
    1) As a Muslim, Thomas Aquinas is interesting ---particularly as he has borrowed some ideas from Muslim philosophers---what is your opinion on his thoughts on ethics?
    I believe both Christian and Islamic philosophers learned from Aristotle.
    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

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