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.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ethics Resonates

Don't believe people love ethics? Witness the outburst of public support for the pilot of the airplane that landed on the Hudson, the banker who gave millions to current and former employees, soldiers who face dark violence with determination, and countless other moving tributes to folks who 'rise above' their immediate personal and group self-interest.

Some folks would argue that Values is all we have - a human nature that is based on pure self-interest constrained only by 'moral self restraint' to provide an antidote to self-justified conflicts and violence. These folks believe we delude ourselves if we think human nature is otherwise. That kind of circular thinking leads to self-justified bullying in all its forms from playground to planetary.

The alternative is to recognize that we are also beings fully capable of Ethics - a human nature that includes an innate love of fairness as a preferred means of arbitrating conflicts, and we honor and support it when we see it in others.

Folks who recognize humans love public ethics and fairness perhaps even more than personal values and self-interest, appeal to that civic maturity to collectively help put in place multilateral institutions to facilitate fair arbitration and impartial enforcement. This breaks the cycle of self-justified conflicts and is sustainable.

This link has interesting research related to our innate love of ethics. Like many articles it uses the term 'morals' which is unfortunately quite ambiguous compared to using the word 'ethics', but the jist of the article very much supports the premise that ethical behavior is humanly innate.


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