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Ethical Action


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Ruminations of how to live ethically. Part of an attempt to change the discussion and understanding of applied ethics.

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Ethical Action

  1. Do You Have To Believe in God to Be Ethical? UUCB January 2, 2005
  2. Ethics - Definition  Webster’s - normal state of humans’  Essential quality of one’s own character  Standards of conduct  Whose standards?  Community  Profession  Social Contract?
  3. Ethics - Purpose  Ethics - clarify the way people normally behave toward each other.  Creates trust and safety  Golden rule(s)
  4. Global Ethic?  Ethics often seen as specific to culture  Is there a universal basis?  Could respect be a universal?  Standards are based on what? Why?  Rules for “goodness”
  5. Standards / Rules Based on Needs  Need for safety = Standard that protects  Canary  Need for rules = standard for obedience  Penguin  Need for winning = standard for competition  Eagle  Need for community = standard for relationship/diversity  Barn Swallow  Need for self-expression = standard for variety & freedom  Swan
  6. Different Ethics  Canaries, Penguins and Eagles Fear based = respect for authority  Ethics include obedience to higher authority  Mix up ethical and legal  Seek to preserve the traditional order  See success as a measure of “goodness”  Hard work and good connections - model citizen -  image  Community is similar to self  Authority externalized (God)
  7. Different Ethics con’t  Barn swallows and Swans Experienced based  Seek greatest good - other focused  Value diversity of thought, people, experience  Love options  Look to “spirit” vs.. Letter  Value self-expression  Community is larger than self  Authority is internalized 
  8. Integrating Differences  Respect others needs  Make sure they are met or that you understand and will address that need.  Don’t ignore or disparage  All ethical actions should:  Not put others at risk  Be extended to all others (as rules)  Promote success in life  Promote relationship  Allow for a range of expression
  9. Being Ethical  Caring about your fellow humans  Expressing that care by meeting their needs  Respecting the spark of divinity that resides in each or the goodness in each soul  Trust that each is doing their very best  Have patience, allow for personal space and no coercion  Listen actively so understanding is recognized  See the value of the other perspective  Include others in the decision  Incorporate the value of authority, if needed in ways that address all of these needs
  10. Albert Schweitzer  First thought of humans is, “I’m alive”  Reverence for Life is first ethic.  Second ethic is surrender to life - not control of it. The exaltation found in being alive is the source of all ethics.  Thus veracity - authenticity is the ground of virtue.  Sincerity is thus the first ethical quality.
  11. Albert Schweitzer  Loving the life in me I must then love the life in all other beings  Goodness becomes enhancing the life in all other and in myself and in the development of all beings to their highest possibility.  Evil is what hampers or eliminates life.  I believe that the life of the soul is as great as the life of the body. So respect is key to ethics.  Ethics becomes spiritual when it puts us into harmony with the universe.  As the universe seems to move toward complexity and toward life, then a reverence for life and all that that means seems to me to be the basis for ethics.
  12. Universal Ethics  Reverence for all life  Working to enhance life and the development of all living things  Respect for all living beings as they strive to live as I do