March 25, 2015
What's right, what's wrong, what's just and what should I do? These are questions don't so much rest at the front of my consciousness as they niggle at me in the early hours, when I can't sleep or I get contemplative.
Our parents had Ann Landers and Dear Abby and then we had Miss Manners and other slightly snarky equivalents but today we do ethics. Everywhere you look today (The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Time Magazine, many medical associations and on and on) if you have an issue, a quandary, a dilemma; toss it to an ethicist and let them figure it out, or so it seems.
But the questions and issues have a tendency to go a tad Meta. When we start delving into the differences between ethics and morality, whether we can trust moral codes and moral constructions for example or why we need to even decide these questions. But we do. The world is a complicated place and sometimes we need guides and this is not new, for some the Ten Commandments were the first moral code and the Code of Hammurabi the first ethical code, but arguments on both these points persist. (The line between a moral code and an ethical one is fuzzy but simple: moral codes govern how you live your life, an ethical code guides how we all live together.)
In an age where religion is losing its hold on the development of moral codes and ethical standards the demand and need for these codes doesn’t vanish but arguably gets more urgent. So we are learning anew.
Musings: An Occasional Excursion into the Things that Intrigue Me