Morality, Ethics, and Consequences

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Morality, Ethics, and Consequences

#1  Postby Curious Ape » Sep 24, 2010 6:41 am

I've found that the difference between the terms morality and ethics depends largely on who I read, or ask. The terms are often used interchangeably. I was just curious if there is some concrete, text book difference -- or how other people used them, and why. I've had professors say one thing, and the books say another.

On another note -- I've never heard a good (logical) argument which proposes that morality/ethics are not contingent upon consequences. Personally, I think they're entirely dependent upon consequences, even if we're talking about intent. But I would love it if anyone could present a sound opposition.

Thank you.
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Re: Morality, Ethics, and Consequences

#2  Postby Kid A » Oct 11, 2010 2:23 pm

In answer to your first question; i don't think there is any major difference between morality and ethics. I guess the one difference i could state is that morality is more of a generally used term, whereas ethics is generally used when we address moral questions in philosophy.

On your second question, i'd ask what you make of the old surgery/patients example that is often seen as a problem with consequentialism. If you don't know it, here you go;

A surgeon has six patients: one needs a liver, one needs a pancreas, one needs a gall bladder, and two need kidneys. The sixth just came in to have his appendix removed. Should the surgeon kill the sixth man and pass his organs around to the others? This would obviously violate the rights of the sixth man, but utilitarianism seems to imply that, given a purely binary choice between (1) killing the man and distributing his organs or (2) not doing so and the other five dying, violating his rights is exactly what we ought to do.
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Re: Morality, Ethics, and Consequences

#3  Postby shh » Oct 11, 2010 2:51 pm

"Morality" is the fact of the matter, whether X is right or wrong, good or evil, "ethics" are rules of behaviour which allow us to conduct ourselves as morally as possible, ie: violence is morally wrong, but letting others commit violent acts on us is also morally wrong, therefore self-defence is ethical. In the simplest of terms, "God's laws are moral laws, humans are ethical" (not that I agree with that, it just shows the differences)
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Re: Morality, Ethics, and Consequences

#4  Postby Loren Michael » Oct 15, 2010 3:16 am

I'm not a philosophy major, but one of my friends who is said there was no distinction made in his ethics classes and that the terms were used interchangeably. If someone gets pedantic about it just tell him that he's being pedantic about his own definitions and that he's not talking about any kind of legitimate technical jargon.
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Re: Morality, Ethics, and Consequences

#5  Postby Tyrannical » Oct 15, 2010 3:41 am

On another note -- I've never heard a good (logical) argument which proposes that morality/ethics are not contingent upon consequences. Personally, I think they're entirely dependent upon consequences, even if we're talking about intent. But I would love it if anyone could present a sound opposition.


I've heard both that "the ends justifies the means" and also "the ends do not justify the means" Is that what you are getting at?
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Re: Morality, Ethics, and Consequences

#6  Postby Bolero » Oct 15, 2010 5:11 am

Ethics is mostly defined as "moral philosophy". The two terms (morals and ethics) are usually used interchangeably, in my experience.

I found this talk on science and morality by Sam Harris excellent in terms of logically identifying "right and wrong". He talks about human wellbeing - both personal and collective - being the gauge of determining "good" actions/behaviour. It's both the ends AND the means that are important in that scenario, I would argue.
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Re: Morality, Ethics, and Consequences

#7  Postby GreyICE » Oct 26, 2010 8:17 pm

To the OP: Define consequences. For instance, there are individual situations where there are no negative consequences, yet the behavior in that situation, if generally allowed by society, has negative consequences on society.

So while we can say ethics are consequential, we have to define our terms.

Tyrannical wrote:
On another note -- I've never heard a good (logical) argument which proposes that morality/ethics are not contingent upon consequences. Personally, I think they're entirely dependent upon consequences, even if we're talking about intent. But I would love it if anyone could present a sound opposition.


I've heard both that "the ends justifies the means" and also "the ends do not justify the means" Is that what you are getting at?

Well that's a tad binary.

It's more "the ends cannot be ignored while explaining the means."
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Re: Morality, Ethics, and Consequences

#8  Postby shh » Oct 30, 2010 10:19 pm

GreyICE wrote:
Tyrannical wrote:
On another note -- I've never heard a good (logical) argument which proposes that morality/ethics are not contingent upon consequences. Personally, I think they're entirely dependent upon consequences, even if we're talking about intent. But I would love it if anyone could present a sound opposition.


I've heard both that "the ends justifies the means" and also "the ends do not justify the means" Is that what you are getting at?

Well that's a tad binary.

It's more "the ends cannot be ignored while explaining the means."

"The ends justify the means" is actually a quote mine anyway, it's from Machiavelli, the first word, usually omitted, should be "if". :thumbup:
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Re: Morality, Ethics, and Consequences

#9  Postby GreyICE » Oct 31, 2010 2:34 am

Really, it's not your original work. You don't say. Any more seminal insights? Is water a tad damp? Do bears defecate in a sylvan area?
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Re: Morality, Ethics, and Consequences

#10  Postby shh » Oct 31, 2010 2:51 pm

Lolwhut? I didn't bring it up in the first place, just pointing out that no-one has ever actually argued that "the ends justify the means" anyway, it's a strawman.
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Re: Morality, Ethics, and Consequences

#12  Postby shh » Nov 01, 2010 12:31 pm

Another strawman? Even that article doesn't claim that "consequentialism= the ends justify the means".
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Re: Morality, Ethics, and Consequences

#13  Postby GreyICE » Nov 01, 2010 2:03 pm

shh wrote:Another strawman? Even that article doesn't claim that "consequentialism= the ends justify the means".

Is this some experiment in writing posts using a computer? Honestly, if so, SmarterChild 2.0 has failed. If not, you might want to step back and consider why your post looks like it's been spit out of a random 'forum post' generator with a mild topical plugin.

By the way, nice ad hominem, but while you were busy with that and your rampant poisoning the well, you committed the conjunctive fallacy which clearly a priori demonstrates that this is just another example of affirming a disjunct.
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Re: Morality, Ethics, and Consequences

#14  Postby shh » Nov 01, 2010 3:07 pm

GreyICE wrote:
shh wrote:Another strawman? Even that article doesn't claim that "consequentialism= the ends justify the means".

Is this some experiment in writing posts using a computer? Honestly, if so, SmarterChild 2.0 has failed. If not, you might want to step back and consider why your post looks like it's been spit out of a random 'forum post' generator with a mild topical plugin.

By the way, nice ad hominem, but while you were busy with that and your rampant poisoning the well, you committed the conjunctive fallacy which clearly a priori demonstrates that this is just another example of affirming a disjunct.

Lol,I have no idea what you're talking about now, have fun. :lol:
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Re: Morality, Ethics, and Consequences

#15  Postby GreyICE » Nov 01, 2010 3:21 pm

shh wrote: Lol,I have no idea what you're talking about now, have fun. :lol:

Aww, now you want off the random fallacy spewing garbage game? When you're the one who started there in the first place? :scratch:

Guess it sucks when posts no longer make any sense because their authors think that by spouting misused jargon and buzzwords they can look really smart :lol:
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Re: Morality, Ethics, and Consequences

#16  Postby shh » Nov 01, 2010 4:59 pm

GreyICE wrote:
shh wrote: Lol,I have no idea what you're talking about now, have fun. :lol:

Aww, now you want off the random fallacy spewing garbage game? When you're the one who started there in the first place? :scratch:

Guess it sucks when posts no longer make any sense because their authors think that by spouting misused jargon and buzzwords they can look really smart :lol:

Yeah, but mine was fairly easy to understand, a strawman is an oversimplification of a view, "the means justify the ends" either as part of a dichotomy with it's opposite, or as a description of consequentialism is a strawman, an oversimplification.
Sorry if you find that hard to understand.
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Re: Morality, Ethics, and Consequences

#17  Postby GreyICE » Nov 01, 2010 5:24 pm

shh wrote:
Yeah, but mine was fairly easy to understand, a strawman is an oversimplification of a view, "the means justify the ends" either as part of a dichotomy with it's opposite, or as a description of consequentialism is a strawman, an oversimplification.
Sorry if you find that hard to understand.

I find it hard to understand why you would be so intellectually lazy as to introduce words that you don't even comprehend into a discussion in lieu of any interesting discourse at all.

This post summarizes everything wrong with this lazy terminology. It's become so overused people don't know what it means anymore, so they just use it as shorthand for "you're wrong so nyah!" It's boring, it adds nothing, and you waste more time trying to explain to people first why they're wrong, and second why they shouldn't use debating terms they don't even understand.

In case you're wondering, first, consequentialism has many flavors. And no, no slogan will ever explain a philosophy. But 'the ends justify the means' is a fair summary of the more extreme flavors of it.

And second, strawmen? Really? Please go figure out what that means. And then don't use the term again, this isn't a formal debate, if you feel that your position has not been accurately stated, just explain why, don't go throwing around half-understood terms.
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Re: Morality, Ethics, and Consequences

#18  Postby shh » Nov 01, 2010 5:58 pm

I find it hard to understand why you're still harping on about this.
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Re: Morality, Ethics, and Consequences

#19  Postby GreyICE » Nov 01, 2010 6:04 pm

Maybe it just fucking irritates me that there's people who go around these forums trying to shut down discussion by a slightly more erudite version of going "you have cooties and smell bad, neener neener neener!"

As with playground taunts the exact nature of the taunt (what 'cooties' is) and the details on whether or not the taunted has any of these traits is lost in the general intent - to anger and disrupt.
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Re: Morality, Ethics, and Consequences

#20  Postby shh » Nov 01, 2010 6:50 pm

I didn't expect agreeing with you to anger anyone or disrupt anything tbh.
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