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Who are the proper subjects of moral consideration?

 
 
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 07:55 pm
A system of ethics is dependent on distinguishing what subjects deserve moral consideration. Most systems extend consideration beyond the self to at least include the family.
How far should consideration extend?
To all humans, to all animals capable of empathy, to all animals capable of suffering, to all animals, to all living things etc.
What should this consideration, if given, include?
 
JLNobody
 
  2  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 10:55 pm
@MattDavis,
Morality is frozen ethics. Actual (dynamic) ethics is best considered as something situational and between interactants, an aspect of relationships.
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2013 11:00 pm
@JLNobody,
Who then are the proper interactants?
fresco
 
  2  
Reply Thu 7 Feb, 2013 12:54 am
@MattDavis,
The word "proper" implies an absolutist or religious stance, which may have no logical foundation in daily human inter-relationships.

"Morality" is a concept only attributable to humans whose distinct ability to contemplate "consequences of their actions" gives them them the psychological problem of the integrity of "self". Many philosophers think that "self" is a socially acquired ephemeral concept, so it follows that "self" acquires the norms of its social conditioning but is subject to contextual compromise. Hence for example the "thou shall not kill" rule is suspended in the context of "duty to ones country in time of war". Consider too the norm in some societies for "holy war" or "ritual slaughter of animals". The "selves" in such culture have none of the integrity problems of outsiders.

And with reference to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, "moral considerations" may simply be an intellectual pursuit for those with the luxury of time on their hands as a result of the material wealth they control.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Feb, 2013 01:50 am
@fresco,
Do no harm.
fresco
 
  3  
Reply Thu 7 Feb, 2013 08:07 am
@cicerone imposter,
That still begs the OP question of "to whom or what".
Should we refuse to eliminate disease carrying insects ?....should we sacrifice one Siamese twin in order to sustain the other ?...etc. Essentially, questions of "morality" focus on such dilemmas.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Feb, 2013 08:10 am
@MattDavis,
Morality depends on society.

You seem to be suggesting that there is some universal morality that should fit any society. In reality, each society makes up its own moral system which includes the subjects that are of interest to it.

Each society makes it up for themselves.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Feb, 2013 08:42 am
Which is to say, morality is subjective.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Feb, 2013 08:46 am
Seems to me an argument can be made for a "moral" obligation to tend to our planet.

The movie The Day The Earth Stood Still made a point that may or may not be valid. The point was that there are a limited number of planets capable of sustaining life (as we know it)...and because of that, every planet capable of doing so MUST be protected.

That seems to infer a moral obligation.
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Thu 7 Feb, 2013 08:54 am
Nonsense . . . what forms of life? Are we to sacrifice the environment for anaerobic life forms because we require oxygen?

Morality is is subjective.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Feb, 2013 08:55 am
@Frank Apisa,
You are making an unsupported assumption that life has value. (Maybe you only think that because you happen to be alive).
Frank Apisa
 
  2  
Reply Thu 7 Feb, 2013 09:04 am
@maxdancona,
Quote:
You are making an unsupported assumption that life has value. (Maybe you only think that because you happen to be alive).


I'd be willing to take your position in a debate, although my heart would not be in it.

I acknowledge that I AM making a value judgement that life has value; I acknowledge that it is an "unsupported" judgement; and lastly I acknowledge that I have absolutely no interest in mounting a support of it.

I was, after all, talking about the point being made in a science-fiction movie about an inferred moral obligation.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Feb, 2013 10:21 am
@fresco,
Everything and everybody. It still remains that what it's meant is subjective to the individual.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Feb, 2013 12:22 pm
Moral consideration only extends to those who belong to the class of beings capable of moral consideration.
Frank Apisa
 
  0  
Reply Thu 7 Feb, 2013 12:39 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
Moral consideration only extends to those who belong to the class of beings capable of moral consideration.


The only thing missing from that proclamation was the roll of thunder as proof positive that it came from on-high and is infallibly correct.
0 Replies
 
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Feb, 2013 04:18 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:
The word "proper" implies an absolutist or religious stance, which may have no logical foundation in daily human inter-relationships.

I didn't mean to imply a religious stance by using the word "proper". I mean to ask who should we extend moral consideration to.
If you have qualms about an absolutist stance, would you be willing to answer "How do you and only you do decide who to give moral consideration and why?"
The comment regarding morality posing a psychological challenge to self is very interesting. Do you think that our ability to contemplate "consequences of of their actions" that you say is responsible for this conflict predisposes people to a utilitarian ethic?
Quote:
And with reference to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, "moral considerations" may simply be an intellectual pursuit for those with the luxury of time on their hands as a result of the material wealth they control.

I think that I made a poor word choice in my original post by using "moral considerations". What I mean is not how should we contemplate morality, but how should we practice it. What I was attempting to ask is more along the lines of "Who should we behave morally toward?".
Who's interests should we consider when we make ethical decisions?
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Feb, 2013 04:22 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
Moral consideration only extends to those who belong to the class of beings capable of moral consideration.

Are infants or severely emotionally and/or intellectually undeveloped adults in this class?
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Feb, 2013 04:30 pm
@MattDavis,
Is every respondent so far of the opinion that there are no universal ethics?
How is moral relativism any different than moral nihilism?
Isn't this just a heart the claim that what is right is merely what is expedient for whatever culture is being used as context?
0 Replies
 
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Feb, 2013 04:37 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
In reality, each society makes up its own moral system which includes the subjects that are of interest to it.

I understand that this is how ethics is practiced "in reality". A description of a moral system is not a justification for it.
Should ethical philosophy simply resign itself to cataloging the legions of competing moral systems of each culture and society?
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Feb, 2013 04:55 pm
@MattDavis,
MattDavis wrote:

joefromchicago wrote:
Moral consideration only extends to those who belong to the class of beings capable of moral consideration.

Are infants or severely emotionally and/or intellectually undeveloped adults in this class?

Yes.
 

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