Why We Can't Resolve Ethical Arguments

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This topic contains 27 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  PopeBeanie 2 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #33208

    Unseen
    Participant

    The problem is that facts are irrelevant. As my ethics professor explained it, “Ethical disputes are not governed by facts. Rather they are governed by attitudes.”

    Example: Whether abortion is murder hangs on when life begins. When life begins isn’t a matter of fact, it’s a matter of definition. And people formulate their definitions to get the result that matches their attitude.

    You’ll observe something similar when it comes to other ethical discussions. Is something wrong with gay people? Those of us who feel the answer is yes will tend to choose a definition based on something like “They can’t reproduce but need to get children by proxy.” The other side rejects that standard and points out their belief that being gay is natural and some people are just born that way. -Once again, competing definitions.

    Any comments?

    #33211

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Unseen, that is a bit like Twain’s, “You show me where a man gets his corn pone and i will show you where he gets his pinions.”

    So it is prepacked and mindless principles governed by economic station which relates to political affiliation and tribalism. In USA the left and right are so similar. It is disheartening. The narrative is adjusted to fit the agenda. The facts be damned. There is very little nuance or reasoning.

    On the other hand that is not the case with people who can be described as freethinkers or independent thinkers. However even those who subscribe to those monikers are often kidding themselves. We are as a species so very fucked.

    #33214

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    It’s not that the facts are irrelevant – it’s that they’re interpreted differently.  Everyone knows that a foetus is alive, and is a tiny human.  It’s just that “pro-life” people place very little importance on the life of the mother, while “pro-choice” people place comparatively little importance on the life of the foetus.

    Interpretations are used as support in an argument for one side or the other.  If Christians accepted that gay people are born that way, it wouldn’t make any difference.  As they say, pedophiles are also born that way.  Rather, people who accept gay people accept their freedom to be that way because there’s nothing wrong with it.  Christians think there’s something wrong with it, because it contravenes their strict patriarchal norms.

    Different groups of people care about different things.  Liberals care about benefit/harm and fairness.  Conservatives also care about in-group loyalty and obedience to authority.  Therefore they have more things that can be contravened, leading to being pissed off.

    #33215

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    I think if we can’t resolve – i.e., agree about – ethical arguments, it’s because each side has different values.  If they had the same values, there would be no disagreement.

    #33216

    Davis
    Moderator

    No it isn’t a fact that a foetus is “alive”. It is a functioning organism but whether it is alive depends on your definition of what is “alive”. Is the foetus in an unhatched egg “alive”? Is a one hour zygote made up of 32 cells “alive”? Are a sperm and an egg just about to be fertilised “alive”? The only fact at all in this case is that it is a “functioning organism”. Now whether that functioning organism is an indepent one that is “alive” or more synonymous with an appendage or organism that is part of a larger autonomous body is up for debate. It is not a matter of interpretation. It is a matter of the definition of “alive”.

    #33217

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    When the foetus is pulled out, it dies.

    #33218

    Unseen
    Participant

    It’s not that the facts are irrelevant – it’s that they’re interpreted differently. Everyone knows that a foetus is alive, and is a tiny human. It’s just that “pro-life” people place very little importance on the life of the mother, while “pro-choice” people place comparatively little importance on the life of the foetus. Interpretations are used as support in an argument for one side or the other. If Christians accepted that gay people are born that way, it wouldn’t make any difference. As they say, pedophiles are also born that way. Rather, people who accept gay people accept their freedom to be that way because there’s nothing wrong with it. Christians think there’s something wrong with it, because it contravenes their strict patriarchal norms. Different groups of people care about different things. Liberals care about benefit/harm and fairness. Conservatives also care about in-group loyalty and obedience to authority. Therefore they have more things that can be contravened, leading to being pissed off.

    See: People select facts cafeteria-style that support their unshakeable attitude. Simple as that.

    #33219

    Unseen
    Participant

    No it isn’t a fact that a foetus is “alive”. It is a functioning organism but whether it is alive depends on your definition of what is “alive”.

    That’s my thesis. People use definitions that rule out inconvenient “facts,” and they do so in the service of preserving their attitude.

     

     

    #33220

    Unseen
    Participant

    Can anyone think of a seismic shift on a moral/ethical issue that was due to a fact rather than a widespread shift in the public’s attitude, or a fact that changed the public’s mind on a moral/ethical matter?

    #33221

    There is a difference between an embryo and a fetus. An embryo become a fetus at about week 10 in humans. At best they are potential humans.

    Below, at similar stages of development, the embryos of birds, reptiles, humans and pigs have tails and gill pouches in similar positions.

    The human one is the the one with the gill that looks human 🙂

    #33223

    Davis
    Moderator

    Yes Simon and if you drop an acorn into a fire it “dies”. So what. Was the acorn “alive”?

    #33224

    Karuna
    Participant

    David Hume said something about Facts and Values.

     

    #33225

    jakelafort
    Participant

    The reason confirmation bias is such a prominent aspect of our dialogue/polemics is because we are married to our ethics/morality/ideology. We don’t ponder weak and weary upon a midnight dreary. It is not like we arrive at a conclusion after weighing the facts and having formed ethical principles that are rational. We see things in the simplest terms and most convenient definitions. Facts be damned. Damn the facts. Full speed ahead. Are we better than robots or crusty snots?

    #33226

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    Yes Simon and if you drop an acorn into a fire it “dies”. So what. Was the acorn “alive”?

    If an acorn is separated from a tree, it is in a dormant state.  If you drop it into a fire, it goes from dormant to dead.

    #33227

    Davis
    Moderator

    If an acorn is separated from a tree, it is in a dormant state.  If you drop it into a fire, it goes from dormant to dead.

    Davis rolls his eyes.

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