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4/2/13 questions and discussion

From: Jon A.
Sent on: Thursday, April 4, 2013 4:00 PM
4/2/13 questions and discussion

1-what do we predict social media will do to or for us?4
2-under what circumstances is it ok to cheat?9
3-which is more dangerous to democracy: big government or big business?8
4-is anything more important than honesty and trust?10
5-should the US become a Christian nation, and if it did, what would happen?9
6-how much can we hold people responsible in terms of moral luck?8
7-whom or what shall be the eventual ruler of the earth?5
8-what do we think is more ethical: stick to your principles or compromise?14


what do we think is more ethical: sticking to your principles, or compromise?

Margarete: an intriguing question. I'm Torn. This this year's question for the New York Mills, MN "Think Off". We'd have to explain what ethics is. Ethics is not black and white, it's gray and depends on individuals.

Mert: are you saying what's good for one isn't for another?

Margerete: yes, It's relative. It can depend on nurture too, how we're brought up.

Andrew: is it scenario based, contextual? 

Margerete: yes, and maybe as we age this kind of decision making becomes less difficult.

Jon: has this been true for you, too?

Margarete: yes. And I would choose compromise over principle. Maybe because I'm female.

David: If I have a religious belief and won't compromise, do you have the right to tell that person they must compromise?

Margarete: only if had been given that authority. But that's a kind of dictatorship, perhaps. If I'm not a dictator, if I feel they're opinion is detrimental I would try diplomatically to sway them.

Jim: is "detriment" key? Must the extent to which the other's thinking/actions are negative be how you decide whether to try to sway them?

Margarete: yeah

Mert: consider the recent N. Dakota ruling on abortions (no abortions after a heartbeat has been detected in a developing fetus). Is that a principled decision or a compromise decision? I think it's a principled decision.

Margerete: yes, I do too.

Steve: banning it outright would be strict principle. Allowing abortion prior to a detected heartbeat is a compromise. Two other things: 1) principle and compromise are not necessarily exclusive. Once upon a time our politicians would stick to their principles, would compromise in order to achieve effective governance. 2) If one's elected, when do you represent your views or your constituents views?

Andrew: I've been trying to think of a way to discuss this. Two Republicans recently changed their gay marriage stands from opposed to supportive in Washington DC. I have more respect for the ones sticking to their principles over the ones being politically expedient -- changing their view just because it's safe now that popular opinion has dramatically shifted in favor of gay marriage. When things hit close to home we become more interested in the expedient.

Margarete: does that make one more ethical if one has "evolved" in their thinking?

Andrew: only if it's a true evolution.

Richard: you prefer the moral integrity?

Andrew: principled position means more to me than expediency. In general it's not so much principle as it's the appearance of principle.

Steve: is it possible for a parent/politician who has a gay child can change their mind?

Andrew: then, that parent/politician ought to abstain.

David: electability has great influence on political decisions.

Andrew: that is tricky terrain.

Steve: almost everybody I know with a prejudice against gay people doesn't know any gay people as friends, co-workers, or neighbors (even though they're there already).

Jim: once we define ethics, we're saying which ethics we use to arrive at our ethics. To say I'm compromising is to be then ethical -- to consider compromise more ethical than standing on principle. A society's framework can give good support to preventing gay marriage. When it's about one's own child, that framework changes. It gets too easy to judge people when they're frameworks change. 

Jon: is the Dick Cheney behavior over gay marriage an example? His lesbian daughter has made herself a public figure who is quite out front in promoting gay marriage. Whenever he was asked what his opinion was on gay marriage (during his vice presidency) he would refuse to say one way or the other, claiming it was a private issue.

Jim: as VP he can't disagree publicly with his party. If I were elected to represent a pro gay district but was anti- gay, I would tell my constituents they would be represented. I would not vote my opinion.

Andrew: if a politician's son goes to war, comes back with a strong opinion against that war, and then his politician parent says they're anti-war, does that work for you?

Jim: that person's not being ethical and doesn't deserve office. If I commit this nation to war you are committing yourself as well. You can decide for your family but not for society. I would trust my children as well.

Marla: I too have been thinking about this a long time. My daughter is not a compromiser, I am. 

David: when I hear compromise I also hear "negotiate." Dr. Phil says don't trust anybody! From the minute we're born we negotiate! Your daughter doesn't negotiate?

Marla: she says "fine, do what you want!" I'm a peacemaker. This is frustrating because I don't stand on my principles often enough.

David: doesn't your daughter says "fine" because she's in a weak position?

Marla: that's not so much true for me but it is with her own daughter.

Jim: is it principle or is it what she wants?

Marla: it's principle.

Jon: are you describing a "bad peace?" Are you sacrificing your principles for peace?

Marla: ideally I would. But sometimes I regret it.

Andrew: might you be principled? With your principle being compromise?

Steve: people might take advantage of that

Jim: what's the detriment to your compromise? The net detriment?

David: resentment

Richard [Marla's son]: we like her more than dad

Marla: I sometimes feel too easily swayed. I empathize perhaps to a fault.

Dick: it's called being a mother.

Vivian: are these all ethical situations? To me ethics is a village, a decision based on what's best for the greater good.

Jim: yet, to affect the "greater good" we must impinge upon the freedoms of individuals.

David: some people don't compromise in order to prevent others from even having opinions.

Marla: I would much rather someone stick to their principles as long as they believe in them. 

Jon: could a politician have a higher ethic? By this I mean be willing to sacrifice lower principles for higher ones. Lincoln, based on the movie I just saw, at least wondered if he'd violated the US Constitution with some of his actions around our Civil War. Could he have been sacrificing constitutional principles in favor of some kind of higher principle?

Marla: yes, what I don't like if those sacrifices are for false reasons

Steve: didn't Hitler think he was working for a higher good?

Marla: I respect that. What I don't respect are the superficial reasons.

Steve: it's the same thing. Some things are morally relative, some are not.

Richard: there comes a time when we have to compromise on ethics to save our lives. Missionaries go to Africa, where they do some good. But they also use others' skills for their cause. To accomplish what they're there for. Yet sometimes the things those others do are unprincipled or at least undesirable/difficul­t for the missionary/NGO (non government organization)/scient­ist. 

David: what gives them the right to go there in the first place?

Richard: sometimes we're forced to do things opposite of our principles. At that point do your ethics change? I wanted to study Hyenas in Africa but found a great many things about arranging to go difficult and undesireable.

Kevin: Fujimori, once the president of Peru, hired a crook and a thief in order to implement the changes needed, which resulted in success for Peru. Fujimori himself landed in prison in spite of the net success of his efforts.

John: it depends on the position one is in. A president in the political minority is obligated to compromise. If one says taxes should never go up how much they should rise is determined by where we think the level of taxation is correct. We can -- as to religion -- stick to principles while not forcing others to think alike.

David: does culture change principle or principle change culture?

Meg: three of us had three different opinions of gay marriage. One was conservative. I didn't quite state my beliefs (which are christian) but think abortion's fine. The third was in the middle. If one is a Christian, can't one see the difference between the state's definition and the church's, respecting both? My Lutheran upbringing makes me unable to have an abortion myself, yet can appreciate that what is good for me may not be good for other women. When a good friend got pregnant and decided to get an abortion I offered to bring her to the clinic because I trusted she knew what was best for herself.

Andrew: is that principle vs. preaching?

Meg: some might say I was aiding and abetting a criminal! My friend asked me what she should do. I asked her questions to find what she needed.

Oren: compromise is almost a requirement. Compromise is almost impossible to avoid. Could there be an election where everybody voted for one side? No. Either we compromise or we get deadlock. 

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