The foundation of a moral/ethical structure. - Politics | PoFo

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For discussion of moral and ethical issues.
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Much has been said and written on this subject, but it still intrigues.

Many of us, if asked, can come up with some sort of list of do's and dont's in response to the question, 'How should we live our lives?' Yet, if asked for the basis for the statements -- the underlying assumptions -- not much is offered. For some, the answer is simply 'The Bible' or 'The Torah' or 'the Koran'. Yet, that begs the question.

Just as a geography, whether plane [Euclid] or other [Riemann, spherical, etc.,] rests upon a set of irreducible postulates forming the foundation on which the structure is erected, there may be a set of postulates upon which to base an ethical/moral structure.

What would they be?
Torus34 wrote:Yet, if asked for the basis for the statements -- the underlying assumptions -- not much is offered.

That's not true, morality has been grounded six ways from Sunday. Go read some meta-ethics.

What would they be?

Metaethics is a branch of analytic philosophy that explores the status, foundations, and scope of moral values, properties, and words. Whereas the fields of applied ethics and normative theory focus on what is moral, metaethics focuses on what morality itself is. Just as two people may disagree about the ethics of, for example, physician-assisted suicide, while nonetheless agreeing at the more abstract level of a general normative theory such as Utilitarianism, so too may people who disagree at the level of a general normative theory nonetheless agree about the fundamental existence and status of morality itself, or vice versa. In this way, metaethics may be thought of as a highly abstract way of thinking philosophically about morality. For this reason, metaethics is also occasionally referred to as “second-order” moral theorizing, to distinguish it from the “first-order” level of normative theory.

Metaethical positions may be divided according to how they respond to questions such as the following:

Ÿ What exactly are people doing when they use moral words such as “good” and “right”?
Ÿ What precisely is a moral value in the first place, and are such values similar to other familiar sorts of entities, such as objects and properties?
Ÿ Where do moral values come from—what is their source and foundation?
Ÿ Are some things morally right or wrong for all people at all times, or does morality instead vary from person to person, context to context, or culture to culture?

Metaethical positions respond to such questions by examining the semantics of moral discourse, the ontology of moral properties, the significance of anthropological disagreement about moral values and practices, the psychology of how morality affects us as embodied human agents, and the epistemology of how we come to know moral values. The sections below consider these different aspects of metaethics.
Those who are clueless as the basis of moral/ethical structure are those who do not care to consider how their belief system was established.

In Psychology, they have a term "socialization" that refers to how we become civilized. I think morals are part of socialization. Right and wrong is established early on when we are babies up to our adolescence or even adulthood, if you believe that we never stop believing about ethics. I studied Philosophy and part of the major required me to learn moral philosophy and ethics. We learn what is acceptable and unacceptable from social cues, from observing people's reactions and hearing verbal feedback from others.

I also think that those who were raised to be Christian, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or whatever religion...they learn morality and ethics from their spiritual leaders and parents.

Even if people are not raised to be religious, if they read fables like Aesop's Fables, they learn morals from the stories. Every story has a lesson to be learned whether it be to not hurry to win the race or not to be jealous of what is not in your reach.
And don’t you think there is an assumption in thinking of ethics as needing a particular criteria?
It surely would tend towards the problem the ancient skeptics disrupted in that there cant be a single absolute criterion without justifying it with further criteria and thus showing that its not absolute.
Best take I’ve seen for secular ethics rather than the universalization of ethics from a supernatural being is based in the mediation between individuals within particular projects and the projects necessarily entail a history of established virtues which develop.
Human freedom can only be attained through mediated self-determination, i.e., participation in projects. A stranger encountered in a public space is to be treated, Kant tells us, as an end in themself, that is, as a project. My relationship to a stranger then is that between two mutually independent ends, or projects. At the same time however, the other is a person, and not just any aggregate of actions, and persons are bearers of ineliminable rights. But the interaction between two individuals is never unmediated, except in the jungle perhaps, the question is always to discern which project defines the relationship relevant to a specific ethical problem.

The foregoing review of efforts to devise an ethics appropriate to life in modern, secular nation states, needs to be taken together with my proposal that these efforts can only reach a successful outcome by taking a collaborative project as mediating the relationships between individuals. This leads us to a two-step approach to resolving ethical problems. First we must identify the relevant project and the position of the subjects within that project, or alternatively determine that the subjects must in the given instance be regarded as independent projects. Then we must identify the ethical norms indigenous to the given project(s), which we will do on the basis of a typology of projects and relations between projects. For each paradigm there are specific ethical norms. Every project has its own ethics, according to its self-concept; however, not in every case can such norms be endorsed as rational and reasonable, and it will be the ethics shaping the paradigmatic norms of collaboration that will conclude this examination.

This has some advantage to grounding the stability of values and their change as not independent of people but greater than any one particular individual’s morality as it is instead the values of some community.

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