Moral laws

Hiya escapists.

So I was reading smbc recently


And I can't help to wonder whether that statement is true or not.

So, just for fun, post whatever is the closest to a perfect ethical law that you can come up with.

Jonluw:

Is it morally wrong to do something that harms a person if they want you to do said thing (whether they know it'll harm them or not)?

I think that the morality of the action depends entirely on whether the other person's consent was informed or not. If the person is aware of the potential harm that your action will cause, and wants you to go ahead anyway, then I think it's morally acceptable to do so. If the person is not aware of the possible harm, then it is no longer morally acceptable for you to go ahead with the action. Of course, if you have reason to believe that their consent is informed, then you aren't morally culpable if it turns out they were not informed.

I've always like the Wiccan Rede "an it harm none, do as ye will" although that is far from a perfect ethical law.

I think that anything resembling a perfect ethical law would need to be somewhat complex, and would likely consist of more than a single sentence, if only because you have to carefully define the terms to make your meaning clear (to use the Wiccan Rede as an example, different definitions of "harm" can greatly change the meaning of that rule--is it harmful to whip a masochist, for instance?).

I'd say it's true that there is no such thing as the perfect "ethical law" - ethics has to do with real interactions between persons - we should not try to make it into an inflexible mechanistic system. Furthermore, any broadly stated law of that sort will, just by the nature of language, be open to plenty of ambiguity.

However, I want to stress that making ethical principles is not the only (or even a) legitimate way to approach ethics. Ethics is still possible - it's just far more concrete and forward-thinking. Ethics is more about the "responsibility for the responsibility of the Other". In other words, giving people the choices that they are due, holding them accountable for their decisions, and making sure that they keep a sense of their own greater responsibility in view (and I mean responsibility up to the most far-reaching sense).

Let's distinguish morality from ethics though. Ethics is about the basis for that responsible interaction between persons, about right or wrong action - morality is about values, good or bad. Every individual person can have their own set of moral values, their own idea of the proper human life, and these will come into conflict with everyone else's. Ethics enters the picture as the medium by which this conflict is resolved.

So essentially, only you personally can answer the question you posed. However, there is nothing inherently immoral or unethical about say - helping someone commit suicide if they ask you to. If you feel they should not, you can try to convince them why, but if they refuse to change their mind, that's about all there is to it (Both of you were given a fair choice and hopefully made to understand the breath of your responsibility for the act - ethics - and it may not necessarily be in conflict with your personally held values - morality).

The question we should always keep in mind though is: "Why *should* this person, or you, want to take part in such an act in the context of what (spiritual) direction we want humanity to move in?"

Edit: Didn't see the "fun" bit...I guess mine would then be: "Each of us is responsible for their own responsibility and the responsibility of others." or alternatively "Let your ideal of human destiny guide all your actions, but recognize the ability of each of us to choose".

Jonluw:

Another problem with that is that it is much too demanding.

"Interfere in no one's behavior in ways which they would not wish" would be less demanding, but still I think too demanding. People have a habit of wishing people to act quite a bit more than just 'morally' toward them. There are perfectly legitimate interactions with other people that are not guaranteed to be well-received. Policework would be very immoral under your proposed ethical law, as well as my modification.

I think that to reciprocate kindness with kindness, indifference with indifference, and hostility with hostility would be better, and certainly more natural, than either of those.

I think Confucianism uses the negative form.

'Don't do things to other people you wouldn't want done to you.'

I think it probably needlessly conflicts with certain things. I don't like being tickled, but my five year old cousin probably finds it enjoyable.

Another interesting thing is the legality of BDSM. There are certain specific exceptions to assault laws, like medically necessary procedures. But it's less clear whether or not consented BDSM is still technically assault.

This is a stab in the dark, but

"Attempt to maximise happiness in the world, starting with your own"

Well, my general rule of thumb is to mind my own business most of the time and not be a dick when I'm not minding my own business. Though of course, I'm not one of those turn the other cheek folks, so I'm not to be expected to play nice when people are just going to take advantage of that, of course.

Dags90:

Another interesting thing is the legality of BDSM. There are certain specific exceptions to assault laws, like medically necessary procedures. But it's less clear whether or not consented BDSM is still technically assault.

I think this is mainly a thing where informed consent comes into play. If someone gets off on being tied up and whipped, let them, as long as they're aware of the risks and all that. Plus, they can use that good ol' "Sorry, he can't answer the phone cause he's all tied up at the moment" thing. Yeah, well, I had to sneak a cliche in, sorry.

Batou667:
This is a stab in the dark, but

"Attempt to maximise happiness in the world, starting with your own"

I don't normally post memes...
But when I do, it's for a good reason.
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