To Be An Ethical Person Or To Be A Good Person, That Is The Question: Part I

Rules of ethics as with calls for ethics, preaching about a need for ethics, and committees on ethics are omnipresent. Everyone who is anyone from the extreme political right to the extreme political left seems only to agree on one thing: ethics is good. Just for that reason, it is something of which the workers and powerless of the world should be suspect. If those who rule over us agree on one thing that one thing must not be good for the ruled. Theoretically: what is “ethics” that everyone seems to worship and admire it; is it any different from law; is being an ethical person the same as being morally good? Practically: why is it that throughout the history of injustice and evil including racism, ethics as with the law is almost always on the wrong side, and yet in any present ethics as with the law, both always claim to be on the right side of history?


In practice, “ethics” for philosophy including its subset theology describes a set of rational principles that are supposed to be universal to all concepts of individual morality: that is to all concepts by which individuals define good or evil. Outside of philosophy and Christian Theology, no one especially no one in politics, academia, business, or in any field outside philosophy or theology defines “ethics” in such a way. This is true for one simple reason often called Hume’s Law or Hume’s Guillotine named after the philosopher David Hume stating: one can play as many wordgames as one wants, but no matter how you change your syntax or semantics, there is no way to deduce nor induce from descriptive statements of “is” to conclusions expressing a new relation of a normative, evaluative, or perspective “ought”. Thus, normative statements of what one ought to do cannot be rationally derived from what is: ethics is not rational. This is the foundation problem of all philosophical and Christian theological contemplation on ethics that are beyond the subject matter of this blog. In dealing with this problem, all philosophers and Christian theologians analytically contemplating it have reached at least one set of rational principles that in the end may be all there is to ethics: 1) we must apply Ockham’s Razor to ethics in that rules of ethics must be as simple and as few as necessary to reflect morality given the multiple of possible individual moralities; 2) execution upon any principles of ethics is by necessity tempered by the emotion of empathy in which the will recognizes the existence of struggles between individual moralities and acts on this struggle with the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, and courage.


However, popular “ethics” by all powers from the left to the right ignores the substance and essense of Hume’s Law in their omnipresent pontificating on ethics. Instead, for them the word “ethics” describes codes of written conduct formally put forward by any socially acceptable group. In this descriptive use, it is dogma never to be questioned that ethics is unquestionably rational and it is dogma that any violation of their rationality must be punished untempered by any emotion — in fact, emotive considerations in execution of a group’s ethics would be in itself unethical. In popular ethics, Ockham’s Razor is ignored: the more rules of ethics there are, it is dogma that the better the rules of ethics must be. The final attribute of popular ethics is its dogma that it is not dogmatic.


For the powerless workers of the world, popular ethics clearly creates a problem in principle and eventually in their execution in practice. Ethics is founded upon dishonest dogmatic belief. This dishonesty compounds itself as it is formalized into rules and then enforced. Popular ethics in practice never admits to its inherent intellectual dishonesty but instead does all it can to hide it, and it is unchecked by reality consisting of procedures that would act as a check on its inherent dishonesty or pragmatic results that can somehow be tested — regardless of whether or not the tests can result in falsification. For example, all formalized codes of conduct by socially acceptable groups are internally formalized by socially acceptable members of the group. What happens is that a dozen or so socially acceptable members of a group chosen by an even smaller number of the powers of a group get together and decide the “ethics” that will then be enforced upon thousands to hundreds of thousands or millions of members of the group with direct effect upon millions if not billions of that group’s customers, clients, patients, or whatever none of whom had any say in the ethics being enforced upon them. This form of governance is so unique to modern technological society that there appears to be no name for it. I would call it a technocracy except that the technicians formalizing the rules are not technical experts on ethics; based on their social status, they are simply chosen by the powers to formalize rules for them. In fact, as contemplated by, this technique can be used to define the powers-that-be: those few who can enforce irrational conclusions as to what ‘ought-to-be’ upon others — i.e., Orwell’s Inner Party and their servant members of the Outer Party.


The supposed practical intend of codifying rules as “ethics” is to protect the weak from the strong. A wordgame in which a small group of socially accepted humans appointed by an even smaller group of powerful humans within a socially acceptable group is expected to create rules to protect the weak from themselves and the powers that appointed them is a game proving the game’s developers to be completely ignorant of human and natural history and of human nature. As with the law, as contemplated in, such a game’s result consisting of the wordgame that is “ethics” is always the exact opposite: protecting the strong from the weak grouping together and overpowering them. As the Romans used to say after putting down the Spartacus slave rebellion, even a pack of dogs can kill a man if there are enough of them.


Furthermore, there is never any attempt to see if the supposed intended result of protecting the powerless from the powerful is ever achieved. In fact, such pragmatic analysis of popular ethics is — in accordance with and as practical proof of Hume’s Law — not only avoided but often outright condemned as an evil. For example, if a politician honestly states they will sell a political appointment or a political position to the highest donor, it is unethical and even criminal regardless if they actually do it — the speech is enough for execution of loss of livelihood and imprisonment (i.e., former governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich). However, if a politician actually does give a political appointment to the highest donor or legislate the highest donor’s political needs it is ethical and legal as long as the politician keeps their reasoning to themselves and does not admit verbally that both were bought and sold (i.e., every politician in the history of the world). From the pragmatic perspective of the voter, especially in a society that supposedly worships free speech, how is this ethics forcing politicians to hide their dishonesty in anyway a moral good? It is not.


This type of analysis can be applied to any popular form of ethics. I am not engaged in this analysis to try to create an idiocracy. Our modern technological world is so very complicated that it is easy to forget the basic premises of human thought that have made us successful so far in beating the natural world’s will to kill us. For example, mathematics is incredibly complicated, yet all of its incredibly convoluted, rationally challenging complexity begins with one simple operation: addition. If you do not understand that 2 + 2 = 4, all of mathematics is worthless farce. Before we can go on to questions of whether ethics or morality is any different from law or whether being an ethical person is the same as being morally good, one must accept that “freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four. If that is granted, all else follows” — Orwell’s 1984.

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