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"New York Philosophy" Message Board › Ethics Discussion

Ethics Discussion

A former member
Post #: 6
I was just having a look at the ethics debate guide, which, in large part, is curiously oriented around somewhat of a Christian perspective on ethics, in preparation for the next discussion. Would anyone like to propose some questions or 'ethical dilemmas or situations' to discuss?

New York, NY
Post #: 57
This sounds like a good debate already - would be interested in why you think the questions may be overtly Christian (Western I could possibly agree with...). None of the questions seems to center on Christian tenets, although there is one question on moral relativism which cites the famous speech the new Pope made last year on the topic.

The Debate Guide (http://www.nyphilosop...­) is in Wiki format, so everyone is encouraged (even solicited!) to add his or her own questions and comments to the debate guide ahead of next Tuesday's meeting. For the meeting, the Debate Guide serves as the list of questions for discussion, so if there are ethical issues anyone would like to see covered, feel free to add them. :-)
A former member
Post #: 7
Yes, this might be a good discussion. Perhaps, you could propose this for the 'roulette' session.

I did not say that the questions in the debate guide are overtly Christian but that they are oriented around a Christian perspective on ethics. First and foremost, each hyperlinked text fragment sends one to a page that is divided between 'Christian Views' and 'Secular Views'. The majority of the work on the debate guide has been done under the 'Christian Views' rubric. Even some of the posts under 'secular views' cite a text that concerns the argument (or counter-argument) of faith.

In addition to the Pope Benedict citation, the debate guide questions refer to the 'Golden Rule', 'absolute good and evil', as well as to a curious question about Eurabia and Europe continuing on a secular path. These references lead me to believe that the debate guide is indeed oriented around a relilgious world view. I am not making a value-judgment but simply pointing this out. I am not sure that I would begin a discussion on ethics with questions of 'absolute good and evil', certainly a Christian notion but not exclusively so.

I would think that a discussion of ethics hinges on concepts of moral agency, intention, rights, duties, social conventions, judgements of obligation, selfhood, social and political community, questions of assigning blame and praise to actions and individuals, the role of an emotional context to decision making, universalizability, means and ends...

It is important to distinguish between descriptive and normative ethics. The question of relativism is central to contemporary (postmodern) culture and society.
New York, NY
Post #: 58
I understand your point better.

In general, each question throughout the PhiloWiki site should link to a page that characterizes all meaningful viewpoints. Many of our pages describe (sometimes very minimally) a secular view and one or more religious views. There are pages (admittedly, not many) with Islamic views and Jewish views in addition to the pages with Christian views. The presence or absence of certain viewpoints at this time is a reflection of the nature of past debates and my busy schedule more than anything else. I freely admit that other religious viewpoints (Hindu, Buddhist, etc. ) should be much better represented, but I am poorly equipped to do this.

The ethics guide, like all others, represents the biases and contributions of the past year or so. When we have debated ethics in the past, one main concern is the origin of ethics in the absence of a religious foundation (and absolute good and evil). Atheists like myself consider this a fairly basic question, but it seems to always come up. We even ran an entire meeting around the concept of the Prisoners' Dilemma. I think that is why such a significant portion of the guide is devoted to that problem.

I will review your comments and hope to use them to scrub the ethics guide and make it more comprehensive in the future. The ability to collaborate like this with people who are much more learned in these topics than I am is what makes Meetup and wikis in general so worthwhile.
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