Ethical Guidebook

A discussion of the difference between our personal values and our public ethics, how mature citizens can support both, and why our love for public ethics must trump our love for personal and group values when they conflict in the public space. Ethics offers a guidebook for evaluating public issues and finding multilateral solutions to endless cycles of values centric conflicts and unilateral violence.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Degrees of Freedom

Good public ethics enable and maximize options for private personal values to the extent they do not take away other's public rights to different personal values. In general, this defines personal freedoms that coexist sustainably with pubic ethics.

Personal freedom within public space and rules, is defined to a great extent using these four simple metrics: To what extent do personal freedoms enable Anonymous behavior, Ambiguous behavior, Autonomous behavior, and Ambivalent behavior?

In other words, personal freedom is maximized within public ethics to the extent that it can be (though it certainly does not necessarily need to be):
- Anonyous - I do not have to tell people who I am
- Ambiguous - I do not have to explain what I am doing
- Autonomous - Nobody else can tell me whether or not to do it
- Ambivalent - I have a choice of behaviors not dictated by a single external creed or authority

Clearly not all behavior falls within personal freedom, we exist in shared public space. Personal values cannot dictate choices within that space or choices made in the private space by others. When our public ethics conflict with our personal values in the public space, public ethics must trump personal values to preserve both public ethics and personal freedoms. The above metrics help establish limits for and measure the success of sustainable public ethics for fair play and rules that enable and maximize personal freedom alongside public ethics based behaviors in the public space.