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Topic: Ethics (Yes again)
Message: Posted by: Scott O. (Jan 18, 2002 11:30AM)
In another area of this site, there was a recent discussion on ethics that evolved into a topic that probably belonged here.
I received a copy of a commentary by Charles Colson that deals with the subject of ethics, and, while I canít paste it in it's entirety here, I thought I would share portions of it.

He begins by mentioning the recent bankruptcy of Enron Corporation. It is being referred to as a scandal because the stock dropped in one year from $90 to less than $1. However, Enronís accountants apparently signed off on financial statements that grossly understated the companyís losses. Then the accountant firm allegedly told Enron to destroy the records on which the statements were based.

During this time Enron executives apparently sold 160 million dollars in Enron stock, but they simultaneously reassured employees and shareholders of the companyí bright future. The result was that the executives walk away with millions of dollars, but perhaps thousands of employees lost their lifeís savings and retirement accounts.

Charles Colson then goes on to sum up the lessons that should be taken from this:


[quote]

"As I see it, there are two lessons we must learn from the Enron affair. First, human nature doesnít change. . .
Scandals like this have been a recurring theme throughout American history.

The desire for wealth can always drive some men and women to cut corners and take advantage of others, which is why the Bible says what it does about the love of money.

The other lesson involves the distinction between right and wrong in an age that has ceased believing in moral absolutes. If you go to the nationís top business schools, youíll note very little is said about morality or honor. I discovered this when,
a decade ago, I lectured on ethics at the Harvard Business School. The school, at the time, offered a course on ethics that I found to be pure pragmatism:

Donít do the wrong thing because itís bad for
business. I found the students hadnít a clue about real ethics.

You see, ethics, classically, are unchanging
standards which derive their authority from a
transcendent Authority. Well, the problem is if you teach permissive ethics, youíll turn out the best and brightest, into permissive businessmen who cut corners and think they can get away with it. . .

But weíd better learn a lesson as well. When you fail to teach right and wrong, donít be surprised when people do wrong."

[to view the original document go to http://www.pfmonline.net/transcripts.taf?_function=detail&ID=2407&Site=BPT&_

UserReference=C7B84A387BD0BBA93C485C9B ]

[/quote]


I found Mr. Colsonís summation well thought out, and I merely wished to share this with the magic community which seems to never tire of the discussion of ethics.


Scott ;)
Message: Posted by: Paul (Jan 18, 2002 08:19PM)
Nice post. But the fact we never tire of discussing ethics HAS to be a good thing.



Paul.
Message: Posted by: BroDavid (Jan 18, 2002 09:25PM)
Thanks Scott,



When it comes to straight talk about real baseline life issues, it is hard to beat Charles Colsen.



Thanks for sharing that!



And Yes Paul, it is good that we never tire of discusing it. I just hope we are equally fervent in our application of it.



Thanks for your excellent observation too!



BroDavid
Message: Posted by: Burt Yaroch (Jan 19, 2002 12:21AM)
[quote]

On 2002-01-18 12:30, Scott O. wrote:


You see, ethics, classically, are unchanging
standards which derive their authority from a
transcendent Authority. [/quote]



The flaw in Mr. Colsenís comments is that he seems to be basing ethics on the writings of theologians and religious figures. Ethics, as a division of philosophy, utilizes philosophical methods to develop ethical positions and not the faith in a higher power. Human reasoning is the basis of these positions. Ethics is not religion, and religion is not ethics. I find it hard to believe that someone lecturing at Harvard on the topic would not know this.

Further, to say that ethics is unchanging is to imply that humans, and our capacity to reason is unchanging. I think even a casual glance around you at the advances being made in nearly every field of study would prove otherwise.

Nice sentiment, but completely off the mark IMO. I could be wrong.


_________________

Yakworld.



Home of the famous Floating Goat and a wife who thinks Iím an a**.
Message: Posted by: Paul (Jan 19, 2002 03:31AM)
No, not off the mark, isnít your interpretation, your take on his use of one word? Transcendent?

My little Oxford dictionary describes Transcendent as:
Of supreme merit or quality; (of God)
existing or not subject to limitations of, material universe.

I feel pretty sure that the word was just used to highlight that ethics should not be flexible for material gain.

But then, thatís just MY opinion.


Paul.
Message: Posted by: Jeb Sherrill (Jan 19, 2002 04:30AM)
Yak,

I think I see what youíre saying here, but to say that ethics is based solely on philosophy, I think is too strong a statement. For one, in the old days, (classic Greek for instance) philosophy and religion were intertwined to the point they sometimes became interchangeable. Of course ethics has a basis in morality.
As philosophers (and Iím a theosophist so I bend them together quite a bit), we separate ethics from morality, but in the broader sense they are the same thing. We only separate them (as philosophers) by their basis (theos and philos etc.) and that is an academic matter. When the tree is shaved down however, they are the exact same concept. I would separate the terms for discussion purposes, but I understand where others might not.



Sable

:dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:
Message: Posted by: Burt Yaroch (Jan 19, 2002 08:00AM)
Paul, actually I interpreted that from two words: transcendent Authority. I think his use of the capitalization of the second word is intended to imply reference to a diety (but perhaps this was an error). When following the word transcendent I think my interpretation becomes most accurate. His preceeding reference to the Bible I think helped lead me there.



Sable very astute observation. I would tend to think, however, that anyone lecturing at one of the most prestigous universities in the U.S. would be speaking of ethics in the academic.



And I agree with you, that because of their similarity, the theos with the philos, they may be interchanged. But to say ethics is derived from God is still swinging too far to one end of the spectrum, I think with a purposeful agenda.
Message: Posted by: BroDavid (Jan 20, 2002 09:12AM)
Hello Yak.

I think you were right when you
"interpreted" Colsenís "Transcendent Authority" as him believing that Morals and the applications of them as Ethical standards of behavior comes from God.
I firmly believe that is what he thinks, and that is exactly what he intended by his wording.

In response to that notion, you said "But to say ethics is derived from God is still swinging too far to one end of the spectrum, I think with a purposeful agenda."

Ok, for the sake of discusion, letís say that on the other end of the spectrum, Ethics, Moral, a sense of right and wrong, do not come from God.

So, if accept the argument that it doesn't come from God, since a sense of Ethics, Moral right and wrong, seems to exist in EVERY culture in the world, (but so as not be radical - instead of EVERY, let me say most cultures...) And I would guess that you would agree that it exists - or we wouldn't be discussing it in the first place.

So, where does it come from? What tells a man not to rape a woman if he feels like having sex? What tells a woman not to kill her newborn baby if she already has too many mouths to feed? What says that knocking down an old lady and taking her purse is wrong?

Just where does all this STUFF come from?

Thanks for helping to raise this question.


BroDavid

_________________

If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.
Message: Posted by: Jeb Sherrill (Jan 20, 2002 05:42PM)
Yak,

Well you do have a point there. He was lecturing at Harvard.



Sable

:dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:
Message: Posted by: Burt Yaroch (Jan 20, 2002 10:01PM)
BroDavid, I think the proof to my postulate may be found in your querry:


[quote]

So, if accept the argument that it doesn't come from God, since a sense of Ethics, Moral right and wrong, seems to exist in EVERY culture in the world, (but so as not to be radical - instead of EVERY, let me say most cultures...) And I would guess that you would agree that it exists - or we wouldn't be discussing it in the first place.

[/quote]


I agree that every (nearly every) culture has this sense of right and wrong. But not every culture is monothestic and there are some, persons and entire cultures, that do not believe in a higher power at all. But as we have already agreed, they still have this sense of right and wrong, sans God.
So without God (or god or gods) they must have developed this belief system through reasoning and the continued teaching of this reasoning. Academically speaking, philosophy. They "do unto others" not because they have read it in a book or because of their belief in the authors of said book but because their capacity for higher thought has led them to this conclusion.

Even the theosophists (and correct me if Iím wrong here Sable), a study where religion and philosophy have become intertwined, built of philosophy a religion and not the other way around.

To me, saying ethics is based on religion is akin to explaining Big Bang Cosmology with the book of Genesis. Iím not claiming that one is right and the other wrong (although I will over a beer) :goof: just that one is science and one is religion. (Unless, of course you mash the two together and call yourself a Scientific Creationist, which is an entirely different beat down session, again, one for the beer).

And BroDavid, I have gathered from your username and your profile that you are a man of God and I completely respect that and I hope I havenít offended you with my opinions (I was purposefully trying not to). Religon, to me, is a very personal belief system and is why it is on the "donít ever talk about" list. This is precisely why my hackles are raised whenever someone attempts to interject thier religious beliefs into my philosophy, cosmology, geology, anthropology, archeology or any other ology (except, I guess, theology).
We are discussing ethics as it applies to magic and suddenly I am forced to tiptoe through the discussion so I donít offend anyone just because Mr. Colsen wanted to use philosophy as a vehicle to subtly impress his religious beliefs upon me. No thank you.

If you wish to discuss religion with me, great (just please not here, for everyones sake :bwink:). And if you wish to discuss philosophy, I think I can hang with you there as well (perhaps not with Sable). Just please donít ever try to blindside me with a diety (theyíre all very big and Iíll see it coming a mile away). :)
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Jan 20, 2002 10:29PM)
Let's make this simple:



If you have to stop an action and ask yourself if it's wrong, then it probably is.



cheers,

Peter Marucci

showtimecol@aol.com
Message: Posted by: Jeb Sherrill (Jan 20, 2002 10:59PM)
Well Yak,

Yes and no. Theosophy (though somewhat debated by those of us referring to ourselves as such), is really a weave of religion and philosophy starting from the middle. Of course most of us do have one or the other as a starting point.

Contrary to popular belief however, the Higher Power idea as it were, has nothing to do with monotheism unless you want it to.
"Higher power" in a broader sense can refer to the Jewish monotheistic God, the Christian polytheistic/monotheistic blended trinity, the polytheism of many religions and even the broader belief in the universe as believed by some other religions. Hinduism and Kabbalic philosophy are excellent examples where very physical God/s do exist, but are ultimately understood to be emanations of the all-encompassing universe.

The point most try to make when stating that morality/ethics is based on a "higher power", may be stating it from a very limited understanding of only their own personal God, but it certainly does have a basis regardless. Confusiousism is certainly based on philosophy, but youíll find it's ethics quite similar to other "God" based religions. The Theosophical point brought from this is that no matter how your belief system is based: whether on a deity proper, an all encompassing force or the logic inherent to your psyche; they will turn out the same, bent and twisted somewhat by your culture and personal tendencies. Therefore in a larger sense, there really is no difference between saying morality is handed down by God, or ethics is brought about by reason. Reason and God/the universe/the gods, are synonymous.


Sable

:dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:
Message: Posted by: Burt Yaroch (Jan 20, 2002 11:20PM)
See, I'm not the smartest guy on the planet. It's Sable!



I think we better go have that beer. :)
Message: Posted by: Jeb Sherrill (Jan 20, 2002 11:55PM)
Yak,

Pass me one of those cold ones, my brain hurts. :rotf:



Sable

:dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:
Message: Posted by: Scott F. Guinn (Jan 21, 2002 12:00AM)
If I may interject here:

Ethics were based in religion BEFORE they were based in philosophy, as people had ethics based on their religious views long before the discipline of philosophy came into being. Therefore, to argue that ethics must remain philosophical and not be "brought in" to religion is a flawed premise.

Also, regarding the idea that it is silly to lecture on a religious viewpoint at Harvard is also a flawed premise. Harvard was originally founded as a Christian school, dedicated to training young men to serve God in every professional occupation. Clearly, it no longer follows this mission (although this mission does, in fact, still remain in the original charter). However, I would say that those who changed this mission and made discussions about matters like ethics a "non-religious" matter are the ones who were off course.
Message: Posted by: Burt Yaroch (Jan 21, 2002 05:48PM)
I think we may be mired in semantics here but as the origins of ethics (ethics the moral social instinct) predates recorded history the "chicken or the egg" argument is rendered moot. In either case, which came first has no bearing, in my opinion, on from which perspective the academia should be qualified in modern times.



And I'm sure Harvard, when founded, was still teaching that the Earth was the center of the universe as Galileo's findings to the contrary were deemed heretical at the time, as they were in contradiction with God. Again, historical beliefs have no bearing on the argument and, thankfully, the religous dogmas were eventually removed from the curriculum otherwise all Harvard alumnus would still be Geocentrists.



Lecturing from a religious viewpoint in and of it self is not what I was condemning. It was the interjection of religious viewpoints into studies where theology is not the topic to further a religious agenda. As Sable pointed out there are divisions of ethics (the academic pursuit) that have coalesced with theology. But if you claim that ethics "derive their authority from God" in an academic setting you might as well go on to stress how God created short muscle fibers in my anatomy class, and the heavens and the earth in 7 days in my cosmology class. All great sentiments for christians worldwide but sentiments that do not belong in the classroom.
Message: Posted by: BroDavid (Jan 21, 2002 08:58PM)
Wow! Sounds like some pretty interesting perspectives here. Where else could you get this kind of dialogue without nastiness and name calling?

No Yak, I am not offended. Thanks for your consideration in that area. But in fact, I find that I am offended far less by other peopleís beliefs (or lack of beliefís), than most of them are by mine. :)

And I hope that I have not offended you. My intent in asking the question was to find out what you thought. And I see that others have thoughts there too. Very Interesting!

My goal is never to offend; (anymore than is necessary). But you wouldnít believe how intolerant some people can be, when you talk about absolute and unchanging truth.

Thanks for an interesting discussion!


BroDavid
Message: Posted by: Scott F. Guinn (Jan 21, 2002 11:21PM)
[quote]

On 2002-01-21 18:48, yakandjak wrote:

I think we may be mired in semantics here but as the origins of ethics (ethics the moral social instinct) predates recorded history the "chicken or the egg" argument is rendered moot. In either case, which came first has no bearing, in my opinion, on from which perspective the academia should be qualified in modern times.



And I'm sure Harvard, when founded, was still teaching that the Earth was the center of the universe as Galileo's findings to the contrary were deemed heretical at the time, as they were in contradiction with God. Again, historical beliefs have no bearing on the argument and, thankfully, the religous dogmas were eventually removed from the curriculum otherwise all Harvard alumnus would still be Geocentrists.



Lecturing from a religious viewpoint in and of it self is not what I was condemning. It was the interjection of religious viewpoints into studies where theology is not the topic to further a religious agenda. As Sable pointed out there are divisions of ethics (the academic pursuit) that have coalesced with theology. But if you claim that ethics "derive their authority from God" in an academic setting you might as well go on to stress how God created short muscle fibers in my anatomy class, and the heavens and the earth in 7 days in my cosmology class. All great sentiments for christians worldwide but sentiments that do not belong in the classroom.

[/quote]Actually, the Bible teaches that the earth is round and that it travels around the sun!



EVERYONE has an agenda! If you are not a Christian, you put forth views to prove that you are right, and how things contradict the Bible (whether intentionally or not). In the manual on teaching evolution, given to teachers from the National Educator's Association (which I have a copy of in my library, given to me by a close friend who is a teacher), over and over you will find phrases like: "The purpose of the Theory of Evolution is to prove there is no God, and that secular humanism is the philosophy which should be ascribed to." If THAT isn't an agenda, what is?



We will have to agree to disagree, Burt, but if evolution can be taught as a means to prove there is no God, why not offer an opposing view? Same for ethics? That's what we're doing here, after all, and, at least so far, it has been very civil and captivating. I'd hate to see America become like communist countries, where the "official" theory was taught as fact, and no dissenting views were allowed.
Message: Posted by: Burt Yaroch (Jan 22, 2002 12:57AM)
[quote]

On 2002-01-22 00:21, greatscott wrote:

Actually, the Bible teaches that the earth is round and that it travels around the sun!

[/quote]

This is what I refer to as Biblical Backpeddling. Interpreting the bible to conform to the fundamentals of the era. Much like when Archbishop Usher declared the age of the universe after adding up all the begits and begats of Genesis. Iíve got dirt older than 5000 years in my back yard.

So your statement would be more correct if it read, "the Bible NOW teaches..." Iím not saying one interpretation is right and the other wrong. I would just hate to think the father of astronomy spent his final days under house arrest, his findings largely unpublished, because the church-leaders of the day were misreading the Bible.


[quote]

EVERYONE has an agenda!

[/quote]

Amen to that brother. Iíve got a replica of the skull of Piltdown Man on my bookshelf to remind me of that (for those who may be interested, a link to "the man that never was":
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/piltdown.html
I donít like it either way in my academia.


[quote]

But if evolution can be taught as a means to prove there is no God, why not offer an opposing view?

[/quote]


To quote Dr. Hawking, "This doesnít prove that there is no God, only that God is not necessary."


[quote]

Iíd hate to see America become like communist countries, where the "official" theory was taught as fact, and no dissenting views were allowed.

[/quote]

I think weíll all agree here. One beautiful thing about America, you can always find some common ground. :)

And for the record, Iím a Christian. :bwink:
Message: Posted by: Jeb Sherrill (Jan 22, 2002 07:18AM)
[quote]I would just hate to think the father of astronomy spent his final days under house arrest, his findings largely unpublished, because the church-leaders of the day were misreading the Bible.[/quote]



Well Yak, Iím afraid it wouldnít be the first time. The men in power at the time read it the way they were accustomed and hated anyone who disagreed. Of course, the Earth doesnít revolve around the sun anymore than the sun revolves around the earth. Relativity kicked both Newtonian physics and preconceived ideas out the window, but even that is just a perspective.



[quote]To quote Dr. Hawking, "This doesnít prove that there is no God, only that God is not necessary."[/quote]



I always laughed when Hawking said that, but it would take an hour to tell you why. The scientific view can be so short sighted it sometimes reminds me of Christian dogma. Man this thread is interesting. ;)



Scott

[quote]Iíd hate to see America become like communist countries, where the "official" theory was taught as fact, and no dissenting views were allowed.[/quote]

This felt like it came from left field and Iím not sure what it really had to do with the thread, but I do indeed agree.



Sable

:dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:
Message: Posted by: BroDavid (Jan 22, 2002 08:02PM)
QUOTED and Agreed in the last post.

Iíd hate to see America become like communist countries, where the "official" theory was taught as fact, and no dissenting views were allowed.

And I also agree. But unfortunately it exists today right here.

We have evolution thrust down our throats as fact because it is the "Accepted, Supported View" and anyone who disagrees is intolerantly delared to be a Bible thumping fundamentalist. Yep that is exactly the situation described above and it is here.

But wasn't this thread about Ethics?
What happened to that discussion?


BroDavid
Message: Posted by: Steve Brooks (Jan 25, 2002 01:08AM)
Why do I feel like I'm sitting in a lecture at a university?

I believe [b]Ethics[/b] was the original discussion, and what constitutes right or wrong, good or bad, still remains to be a very personal thing.

I firmly believe there are those walking the Earth that could murder someone, and not feel the least bit guilty about having done so. I still believe that it is wrong.

I have a friend who has over 2000 compact discs full of music he has copied from store bought discs, and or downloaded from the Internet. He will argue with you (to the point of becoming very angry) why it's okay, and all the reasons in the world to justify his actions. I still believe he is wrong.

My belief and feelings aside, in the United States, this is by law... Illegal.
Besides breaking the law, is it ethical?

Regarding magic, is it ethical to copy video tapes, lecture notes, etc. It certainly is illegal. But once again, is it ethical?

I looked up the word [i]ethical[/i] in [i]Funk & Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary.[/i]
Here is what it said:

[b]Eth-i-cal[/b]
1) Pertaining to or treating of ethics and morality.
2) Conforming to right principles of conduct as accepted by a specific profession, etc.

My interpretation of the above leads me to believe that since most folks in the magic industry believe the copying of video tapes, notes, books and tricks is wrong, then ethically speaking... it is. Since the magic profession as a whole believes it to be wrong, and it is not a acceptable behavior.

Am I making any sense here? I think I am.
:donut3: :donut2:
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Jan 25, 2002 06:51AM)
Yes, you're making sense, Steve -- and a lot of it!
Your friend with the pirated CDs seems to answer his own question:
If you have to defend your stand THAT vehemently, then your stand is probably wrong.
Because, in the final analysis, you are really defending it from your own better nature.
cheers,
Peter Marucci
showtimecol@aol.com
Message: Posted by: Reian (Jan 28, 2002 01:00AM)
Nice discussion guys. I also had this discussion at college. It was more based on the business side. Like if you work for a company and you take company pens from your work and give some to your family and friends. That would be ethically wrong of course cause your taking money from your company in taking the pens. Thus your company would have to spend more money in making pens. But it's minor, but still, you cant deny it's unethical. Of course if your allowed to take pens for family and friends.

When having the discussion at college, I started thinking that ethics is something that society and the majority decides, you are conditioned to think this way. Like here in America, we can chew gum freely, but I believe in Singapore, your not allowed to chew gum. I believe it's Singapore, trying to remember what was taught to me in high school this year. So as you can see, it's what the majority thinks is good and bad and what your conditioned to do. But again that's my thought on what ethics really is. Majority rules all and if you go against it, you must be wrong.

I think it was Scott the great, greatscott brought up communism. Maybe someone could do a thread on governments. Take Communism, nothing wrong with it, it's the people behind it that makes it bad or good. I guess cause we're so pro Democracy from being conditioned to like it, from school telling us about the Red Scare and whatever. And us Americans, with our money grubbing capitalist attitude. Just kidding. I'm a weirdo trying to expand my knowledge about government so I can look smart in front of my friends.
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Jan 28, 2002 05:08AM)
Reian,
Sometimes, democracy just means that the majority of people who are wrong are on the same side.
On the matter of pens and, by extension, everything else, there is this anecdote told of playwright George Bernard Shaw:
At a dinner party, Shaw was seated next to a woman; at one point, he asked her: "Would you sleep with me for a million pounds."
She replied: "Why, of course."
He then asked: "Would you sleep with me for five pounds?"
The woman was shocked! "No," she said, "what kind of a woman do you think I am?"
Shaw replied: "We've already established that; now we're just haggling over the price."
cheers,
Peter Marucci
showtimecol@aol.com
Message: Posted by: Scott O. (Jan 28, 2002 08:39AM)
Well, to say that this has turned out to be an interesting thread is a bit of an understatement. I didn't mean to "write and run" when I posted this topic. I just haven't had time to respond of late.

It's quite obvious from reading the various responses that our little community has quite diverse worldviews. For the record, mine is definitely grounded in Christian thought (it hasn't always been there--but that's another story). And for those who wondered, yes, Chuck Colson is taking a Christian approach to ethics in his column (which started this whole thread).

He is merely making the point that in our present culture we see a shift in the meaning of ethics. It no longer seems to be based on an unchanging standard, but is instead based on whatever standard a particular individual subscribes to (permissive).

[quote]
. . .ethics, classically, are unchanging
standards which derive their authority from a transcendent Authority. Well, the problem is if you teach permissive ethics, you'll turn out the best and brightest into permissive businessmen who cut corners
and think they can get away with it. . . [/quote]

Obviously, if the standard changes--it's not really a standard is it? And Mr. Colson's point is just that-- "When you fail to teach right and wrong, don't be surprised when people do wrong." I'm pretty sure we can, for the most part, still determine right from wrong. But given enough time, as we continue to teach a permissive ethic based on the shifting sand of personal feeling and thought, clearly defined right and wrong (black and white) tend to take on the appearance of gray. I don't believe the gray exists, but our abandonment of the standard by which to measure all things muddles the issue.

Imagine a world where we had no ruler. Well at least not one standard ruler. Instead what I felt was an inch (or centimeter) was fine for me. But you think it is longer, and Harmon down the street thinks it is shorter. Could you imagine all of us getting together to build a table? It would be a disaster. Each leg would be a different length, the top would be too small and the sides of the frame wouldn't fit together at all. That is not unlike what is happening to ethics as we abandon a single standard in favor of our own personal feelings-oriented "standard".

The idea of right and wrong, moral absolutes, honor -- all of these are classically intertwined, and, I'm sure, ought to be.

But as I started out saying, we are a diverse group, and many will disagree or just reject this line of thinking.


Scott ;)
Message: Posted by: amagician (Feb 4, 2002 07:06AM)
I don't know if the values I ascribe to originated in a religious system or simply evolved as people realized that they wanted to continue to enjoy the company of people other than those they were tied to by blood or power and so tempered their behaviour (well, except for the ones who persist in doing counting card tricks).
But I am sure that no group or philosophy has the patent on proper values.
I could be wrong. I was wrong only last week. I thought I made a mistake but, of course, I hadn't.
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Feb 4, 2002 01:43PM)
Regardless of anyone's stand here, it would be difficult -- or, might I suggest, impossible -- to find another board (and certainly not another MAGIC board) where such a reasoned and intelligent discussion could take place.
We do, indeed, have a great group on a great board.
cheers,
Peter Marucci
showtimecol@aol.com
Message: Posted by: Steve Brooks (Feb 4, 2002 03:02PM)
Yes we do Peter, indeed we do. :nod: :D
Message: Posted by: dorbolo (Feb 4, 2002 06:36PM)
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle

This is a very intelligent and interesting discussion.
<joke> Now, I get paid to lecture on ethics and so certainly will not do so for free. </joke>

Let me suggest that magicians may benefit by focusing on the question of "integrity" in the pursuit of our craft. As we have seen,
"ethics" and "morality" come with alot of historical and conceptual baggage that must be cleared away in the pursuit of earnest discussion. I am not suggesting that these concepts are negligible - but if we ask the question: "what is required for a magician to act with integrity" we may come close to some everyday concerns of performers.

There is a performance aspect to magical integrity:
investing sufficient practice to ensure quality performance.
showing respect for audience members

There is a business aspect to magical integrity:
giving excellent service for a fair price
covering for the regular gig even if a lucrative opportunity arises
not selling rip off products

There is a community aspect to magical integrity:
showing respect for other magicians
choosing to improve the public image of magic

The meta-ethical questions as to whether there is an absolute basis for value; whether ethics is possible without God; whether the law is coextensive with morality; and much more - these are all issues that are dear to my heart and worthy of reading, study, and discussion. Those interested in such philosophical ethics can find some good resources at the following url's and one recommended book.

Ethics Updates
http://ethics.acusd.edu/

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/e/ethics.htm

Short History of Ethics by Alasdair MacIntyre
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0684826771/104-6689775-4563901

In the present context, I'd like to ask what folks here think about the issue of integrity. What is needed to be a magician with personal and performative integrity?

In good spirit,

Jon
Message: Posted by: maurile (Mar 26, 2002 07:19PM)
[quote]
On 2002-02-04 14:43, Peter Marucci wrote:
Regardless of anyone's stand here, it would be difficult -- or, might I suggest, impossible -- to find another board (and certainly not another MAGIC board) where such a reasoned and intelligent discussion could take place.[/quote]

Not just reasoned and intelligent, but polite. Normally, wherever religion is discussed on the Internet, people are pretty quick to start calling each other stupid.

Quote:
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On 2002-01-22 00:21, Scott F. Guinn wrote:
Actually, the Bible teaches that the earth is round and that it travels around the sun!

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Out of curiosity, what passage(s) do you have in mind?

There aren't very many flat-Earthers around anymore, but the only ones I'm familiar with purport to base their views on the Bible.
Message: Posted by: Scott O. (Mar 27, 2002 08:28AM)
I believe Great Scott was refereing to at least the following passage when he mentioned that "the Bible teaches that the earth is round. . ."

Isaiah 40
21 Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
Message: Posted by: maurile (Mar 27, 2002 01:04PM)
Thanks, Scott O.

Perhaps this is one of those situations where Biblical support can be found on either side if you look hard enough. In any case, this has gotten away from ethics, so I'll shut up now.
Message: Posted by: Allan-F (Mar 30, 2002 02:12AM)
[quote]
On 2002-03-27 09:28, Scott O. wrote:
I believe Great Scott was refereing to at least the following passage when he mentioned that "the Bible teaches that the earth is round. . ." ... He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.
[/quote]

Not to make any claims about the teaching of the Bible here, I'd just like to point out that this passage--as translated here--refers to the Earth as a circle, and says nothing to really indicate whether it means a sphere or a flat pancake, both of which could be described as circles.

I am no authority on this question, but I used to read the Bible quite a lot back when I was heavily into Christianity (a long time ago now) and I don't recall the Bible making much of a claim either way, but would be interested to see some actual passages.

Just a few comments on the many interesting points that have been made in this thread:

(1) There is no reason to assume that just because one has no "transcendent authority" for one's ethics, that one must needs be a moral relativist. I personally believe there are absolute moral standards, but I don't believe in a transcendent authority.

(2) Who has first claim to ethics in history has little bearing on whose legitimate concern it is now. Religion was first, but humanist philosophers have been on it for at least 2500 years.

(3) My own opinion: Socrates was right--if what is moral is moral only because the gods declare it so, then morality is arbitrary--merely a summary of the gods' opinions--and we have a kind of moral relativism. There can only be an absolute nonarbitrary standard for morality if we suppose that moral deeds are moral independent of whether the gods consider them to be so--but then moral deeds are seen by the gods as moral because they already ARE moral; they are not moral because they are decreed to be so by the gods. Hence, it is nonsensical to suggest that belief in a God or gods is required for belief in a moral absolute (although one can still sensibly argue that God, being omniscient, is a better judge of what is moral than we are--but this does not make the very notion of an atheistic moral absolutist an oxymoron, as I have heard some Christians assert).
Message: Posted by: Paul (Mar 30, 2002 03:02PM)
I immediately read that and thought flat circle rather than sphere,Allan, but I didn't think the point important enough to post twice. Now excuse me while I rush out and join the flat earth society.:)

Paul Hallas.
Message: Posted by: Burt Yaroch (Mar 30, 2002 04:09PM)
[quote]
On 2002-03-30 03:34, Allan-F wrote:
--but this does not make the very notion of an atheistic moral absolutist an oxymoron, as I have heard some Christians assert).

[/quote]

Did he call me a moron?
Message: Posted by: Burt Yaroch (Mar 30, 2002 04:53PM)
:lol:

I say I say that was a joke son. Ya missed it. Boy's about as sharp as a wet sack of mice.

Very interesting thoughts Alan. I'm with ya there brother (unless you [i]were[/i] calling me a moron in which case I'll reserve judgement until I've heard both sides of the issue.)
Message: Posted by: Jeb Sherrill (Mar 30, 2002 06:07PM)
[quote]
On 2002-03-30 16:02, Paul Hallas wrote:
I immediately read that and thought flat circle rather than sphere,Allan, but I didn't think the point important enough to post twice. Now excuse me while I rush out and join the flat earth society.:)

Paul Hallas.
[/quote]
Well, and I'm afraid that the mention of a canopy in the following verse would also suggest something hanging over a disk and not a sphere. I don't feel the Bible was trying make a call one way or the other and it probably shouldn't be used to argue either way. But yes, atheists are just as much in error for saying the Bible ever stated the earth was not round (that was the religious leaders of the time), as the Christians are for stating the Bible said it was a sphere.
[quote](3) My own opinion: Socrates was right--if what is moral is moral only because the gods declare it so, then morality is arbitrary--merely a summary of the gods' opinions--and we have a kind of moral relativism. There can only be an absolute nonarbitrary standard for morality if we suppose that moral deeds are moral independent of whether the gods consider them to be so--but then moral deeds are seen by the gods as moral because they already ARE moral; they are not moral because they are decreed to be so by the gods. Hence, it is nonsensical to suggest that belief in a God or gods is required for belief in a moral absolute (although one can still sensibly argue that God, being omniscient, is a better judge of what is moral than we are--but this does not make the very notion of an atheistic moral absolutist an oxymoron, as I have heard some Christians assert). [/quote]
I won't disagree that atheists can have set moral standards (it's been demonstrated by several philosophies), but I would also have to disagree with Socrates here, and state that he did not look deeply enough into the matter. I will allow him a certain leniency, because the gods of his time and culture tended to be highly human, therefore I can understand his reasoning. However, the idea of "God" (whatever that means to you), having an ultimate moral edict, is anything but arbitrary. The theory behind this stance, is that morality is a system in keeping with that natural order of life. The theory therefore, is that if God (creator being, not polytheistic godling), created the universe, then he also created the natural order of things and has ultimate understanding of what is and is not in keeping with that order. What humans do with that is of course another matter entirely.


Sable

:dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:
Message: Posted by: maurile (Mar 30, 2002 06:46PM)
[quote]
On 2002-03-30 19:07, Jeb Sherrill wrote:
However, the idea of "God" (whatever that means to you), having an ultimate moral edict, is anything but arbitrary.[/quote]

Socrates asked: "What does 'God is good' mean? Does God like good things because they're good, or are they good because God likes them?"

If the former, we don't need God to be moral -- there are good things and we can like them all by ourselves. If the latter, there's no difference between a 'good' God and an 'evil' God.

Either way, Socrates showed that morals can't come from gods.
Message: Posted by: Jeb Sherrill (Mar 30, 2002 08:59PM)
Socrates showed nothing of the sort. In fact I think he misunderstood the question altogether. It is not a matter of God "liking" or "disliking". It is certainly not a matter of God being moral or immoral. It is a matter that if a certain system is created (and I mean completely created, not something created in an already existent universe), then whatever is right for that system is what "morality" is and only the creator could know that for certain (keep in mind I am arguing a stance based on a ďcreator GodĒ concept). Nevertheless, considering the gods Socrates was probably considering, I can see his stance. The problem was that Socrates did not look far enough.

Sable
:dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:
Message: Posted by: maurile (Mar 30, 2002 09:57PM)
[quote]
On 2002-03-30 21:59, Jeb Sherrill wrote:
It is a matter that if a certain system is created . . . then whatever is right for that system is what "morality" is and only the creator could know that for certain . . .[/quote]

I don't know whether Socrates would argue with that. It's not a claim that morals come directly from God (i.e., X is moral because God says so), but rather, it's a claim that morality is dictated by the nature of the world, and only God knows the full extent of that nature. In other words, based on the text I quoted above, it looks like Sable's position is that, on matters of morality, God is more of an expert witness than a dictator ("only the creator could [i]know[/i] . . .").

If that's not your position, Sable, please correct me. If it is your position, I don't think it's inconsistent with Socrates' argument that morals can't come (directly) from gods.
Message: Posted by: Burt Yaroch (Mar 31, 2002 12:54AM)
How about we apply simple logic to the question at hand:

Ethics are derived solely from God.
Person X does not believe in God.
Person X does not believe in ethics.

As one cannot even begin to propose a working hypothesis to prove God exists, it seems rather far fetched to go one further and state that my sense of right and wrong is based upon Him. This is solely a matter of faith.

But since it is still being argued let me put this question to the proponents of this belief:

How is it that God imparts us with this morality, with our ethics? Is it through scripture? Continued divine intervention? Genetic encoding?

(As I believe the majority of modern day Christians to be other than biblical literalists let's please not throw out the book of Genesis as your proof. I will conceed that point here and now.) :)
Message: Posted by: Jeb Sherrill (Mar 31, 2002 01:35AM)
Maurilie does define my point well and Yak adds an interesting equation. This is why I had to concede that Socrates' view of God probably skewed his reasoning (from my view of course).

It could be said that Morality does come from God (we are assuming the existence of God for the moment), in that he created the system and that morality was created by him in that it is what moves correctly through the system (so to speak, I'm not sure if that came out right). It could also be said that morality came from God, in that he stated morality (handed down certain laws). I suppose the point I'm trying to make (which is perhaps the same point you are making) is that by stating laws, God is not "making" morality, but simply stating fact as the universe is concerned and He would have the best understanding of the system He created (our translation of those laws being another matter).

One need not believe in God to have ethics as morality is inherent to reality itself anymore than a Christian need believe in gravity to hit the ground when he falls. Morality can be reasoned as well, because reality can be reasoned (to a greater or lesser extent). It could be argued that our ability to reason morality and our ability to translate "Devine edict" are probably equal and I would not be one to disagree.

Sable
:dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:
Message: Posted by: Jeb Sherrill (Mar 31, 2002 01:46AM)
[quote]As one cannot even begin to propose a working hypothesis to prove God exists, it seems rather far fetched to go one further and state that my sense of right and wrong is based upon Him. This is solely a matter of faith. [/quote]

Yak,
I must assume you mean this from purely scientific standpoint, because it would be very easy to hypothesize that the universe is proof that God exists (the precise nature of God being a matter of ongoing conjecture). Science can hardly prove itself either. The best it can do is prove that to a greater or lesser extent, its theories work on a limited basis (that being as far as they can be tested). This is why science is constantly reworked as scientists constantly find that scientists before them were wrong and their hypothesis must be rethought. Just to sight a slight example, Einsteinís theories versus Newton's. And one day someone will prove Einstein wrong. Einstein thought Quantum Physics was rubbish, but it now proves itself today, to a greater or lesser extent. I'm afraid that everything from religion to science to philosophy is all a matter of faith. Our very existence is a matter of faith.
Thank heavens philosophy doesn't bare any burden of proof (it makes my life a lot easier ;) ).

Are we off the subject yet? :rotf:

Sable
:dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:
Message: Posted by: Burt Yaroch (Mar 31, 2002 11:36AM)
Yes I was speaking from the viewpoint of the sciences above, perhaps I should not have. But since I'm there let be take the arguement one step further with this hypothesis.

If you take a child from birth and sustain it's life with basic human needs, but remove from that childs development any form of sociologial or cultural interaction will that child develop the knowlege of right and wrong? Essentially, if no one teaches this child ethics, will it be imparted by God?
Message: Posted by: Paul (Mar 31, 2002 06:46PM)
Anyone who has ever pirated anything should be forced to read these postings for eternity :)

Paul Hallas
Message: Posted by: Allan-F (Mar 31, 2002 11:27PM)
[quote]
On 2002-03-31 02:35, Jeb Sherrill wrote:
by stating laws, God is not "making" morality, but simply stating fact as the universe is concerned and He would have the best understanding of the system He created
[/quote]

Maurile is, I think, correct. Sable is not really disagreeing with Socrates at all. As I said in my original post, it is still perfectly defensible to say that "God knows best," since he is the one who created the system. The point is that the essence of morality is [i]not[/i] its being decreed by God, even a God-creator or even an omniscient God. Such a God may well know best, but he makes his decisions on what is moral based on reasons other than their having been decreed by him. God loves what is good [i]because[/i] it is good, and being all-knowing (or at least the creator), he is in the best position to know what is good (that is not my view, but it is a sensible one and perfectly consistent with Socrates's point--I think it is essentially Sable's view).

My point was this: Socrates showed that the argument that atheists and agnostics cannot have any foundation for a belief in absolute moral standards, simply because God is required for such, is ill-founded.

There are, by the way, many Christians theologians who agree with Socrates on this point, and do in fact believe that God loves the good because it is good, rather than its being good because God loves it. Also, keep in mind, that Socrates did not really advance any particular view of his own in all this. He was only trying to show that the ideas about morality and its foundation in vogue at the time were not well thought out.
Message: Posted by: Jeb Sherrill (Apr 3, 2002 09:11PM)
[quote]
On 2002-03-31 12:36, yakandjak wrote:

If you take a child from birth and sustain it's life with basic human needs, but remove from that childs development any form of sociologial or cultural interaction will that child develop the knowlege of right and wrong? Essentially, if no one teaches this child ethics, will it be imparted by God?
[/quote]
This is a good question and one that of course they've been debating for years. They would probably try it if it just weren't inhumane to do so.

It's a tough question all around, because if you remove a child from society, the possibility of ethics is somewhat cut down just by the fact that there's no one around to be immoral to. A Christian might state that morality would be given to him (stated to him) by God, but again, who will he be immoral to. Of course, I assume the child would eventually be released into society and then we'd see.

It is my opinion that morality (being inherent to the universe) would be learned one way or the other through trial and error, and the childís hereditary personality would determine to what extent he followed it. If you burn yourself by touching fire, you learn. Morality is the same, only far more complicated. If you fall down, you hit the ground, it hurts ect. These things would be much easier to learn with proper (whatever that is) upbringing, but people do appear able to learn right from wrong regardless of upbringing, though we are still uncertain as to how exactly it happens. Also, learning right from wrong, does not necessarily mean they choose right.

A child with a moral upbringing my turn out to have low morals. Perhaps his inherent personality rebels against morality, or perhaps it rebels against authority in general. Therefore, perhaps he would have come out moral if raised by immoral parents. This could be switched around of course, and examples of all (moral children/immoral parents, immoral children/immoral parents and the reverse), have been found.

Hmmmm...now what about clones?


Sable
:dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:
Message: Posted by: Jeb Sherrill (Apr 3, 2002 09:32PM)
Allen,
Well put. My only real problem with Socrates is that I feel he should have looked beyond the constraints of his own cultureís view of God, but given his variables, he is correct. I also feel that any Christian theologian, who agrees with him, should perhaps look again at their own view of God.

Christians do seem to feel a certain monopoly on "Truth", "Morality", etc., and I find this to be very limited thinking in the same way.

Allen makes an excellent illustration of "Natural Law" as opposed to "Arbitrary Law", and Iíll go into that a little later.

I will say (and perhaps this is too close to a rigid opinion), but I feel that by anthropomorphizing God, it has led to these ideas of Arbitrary law. It should really be viewed closer to the way laws are (or at least should) be enacted in a government.


A law: Don't drive both ways on a one-way street.
Biblical version:Thou shalt not drive both ways on a one way street.

Why: Because you can get killed if you do. Not because the government will shoot you for doing it, but because you will hit someone and die.
Biblical version:For in that day, thou shall die. (Same reason really, just stated in a simpler, harsher way)

Morality should be looked at in much the same way. The only problem, is that, it is much harder to see the repercussions of many moral or immoral actions, as it is difficult for our human minds to calculate many of them. This is perhaps why many Christians (whether they realize it or not), state that only God can give, state, bequeath morality; because only he can calculate the repercussions on a global, long term level.


Sable
:dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:
Message: Posted by: maurile (Apr 3, 2002 09:49PM)
I think I agree with everything Sable just said (two posts ago), but I'll add another few thoughts anyway.

I believe it's likely that morality is largely hard-wired into us -- i.e., it's more a matter of genetics than of environment or social conditioning.

As C.S. Lewis observed in [i]Mere Christianity[/i], all human cultures seem to share the same basic moral principles. Sympathy for those in need of help, and anger toward those who victimize others, are universal human traits. If morality was just a cultural thing, we'd expect it to differ from place to place, and from time to time, the same way languages differ. But the moralities of different cultures tend to be much more similar than they are different (although differences do exist).

That our moral sense is an evolved trait -- an adaptation shaped by natural selection -- is a theme that runs through evolutionary psychology. (See, for example, [i]The Moral Animal[/i] by Robert Wright; or [i]The Origins of Virtue[/i] by Matt Ridley.) If that's the case, it explains why basic human morality is shared to such a large extent in so many different cultures. And it also predicts, tentatively, that a person who grows up on an island, in isolation, will develop a basic moral sense that will be not so different from our own. (I say "tentatively" because, as Sable pointed out, there won't be anyone around for him to be immoral to. His moral sense will be unrefined, perhaps underdeveloped. But I bet he'd pick it up quickly once he starts interacting with others.)

So my answer to Yak's question is: yes, a child raised in isolation will probably develop at least a rudimentary (but unrefined) knowledge of right and wrong. Not necessarily "imparted by God" -- but imparted by instinct. He'll know, without having to be taught, that torturing others for entertainment is wrong just as he'll know, without having to be taught, that bananas taste better than dirt. Such things are a matter of genetic programming.
Message: Posted by: Dr. TORA (Apr 4, 2002 01:54AM)
Well Friends, Although it is not hundred percent agreeable for me to all above, it is because of the society,the location and the cultural differences where I have been brought up. No matter there may be minor differences in the values, Basically they are all oriented to the betterment of humanity. So to speak, I think that I have had a very heavy course of "ethics" here. I am sure it will help me alot.!!!
:bubbly: :bubbly: :bubbly: :bubbly: :bubbly: :bubbly: :bubbly: :bubbly: :bubbly: :bubbly: :bubbly: :bubbly: