Ethics & Morality

The following is an analysis of ethics and morality in the context of a monist universe. In a monist universe, ethics, morality and personal values are all natural phenomena. Ethics is usually treated indistinctly from morality. We believe that it is necessary to make a distinction between personal values, and in particular between ethics and morality. The three elements are mutually related, but they are different in essence:
. Personal values are qualities that we attribute to -otherwise neutral- things in relation to their contribution to our well-being. They range from what we abhor to what we treasure, and they include judgement on: what we like or dislike, what we think just or unjust, fair or unfair, good or bad, better than or worse than, and judgements on ethical and moral values.
. Morality is about the problem of what is right and what is wrong, and the dilemma of what should we ought to do? Morality presupposes two things: a moral order in the world and moral responsibility based on our free-will to choose between what is right and what is wrong.
. Ethics is about what is good and what is bad, and the dilemma of what is the best thing to do? An ethical action is an action that affects positively or constructively to the well-being of others or to the world in general. An unethical action on the other hand, is an action that, in the pursuit of one’s well-being, brings for example, pain, suffering, detriment to other’s well being or destruction to the environment.

Personal values are highly subjective and relative: they differ from person to person and they change in time with personal development. Morality is a social phenomena that only makes sense within society. So, unlike personal values, moral values are common to groups of people. But moral values are also relative: they are subject to cultural relativism, they might change from one generation to another, and, on each person, they change with moral development. Ethics, unlike morality and personal values, is objective and independent from place, individuals or time. Ethics is not a matter of opinion. What is ethical or unethical is universal, invariable and independent from culture, values or moral beliefs.

In a monist universe, morality, personal values and ethical judgements are all natural phenomena in man. The difference is that, while morality and personal values are based on subjective elements, ethical judgements are based on objective elements in the world independent from our thought, beliefs and value systems.

As we mentioned, morality presupposes two things: a moral order in the world and free-will. Neither of them has an objective existence. Free-will would mean a behaviour that is autonomous and independent from Nature. And an autonomous behaviour would mean a discontinuity between man and the natural world. In an monist universe there is no such discontinuity. A unitary substance has no gaps, no holes and no discontinuities. Everything belonging to the world has a natural existence. Man in particular, belongs to the natural world and has a natural behaviour (see free-will). Nature in turn, is not a moral order, but a neutral physical order.

In a monist universe then, human behaviour is in essence a natural behaviour and not a moral one. In a similar way as man, with the faculty of reason  rationalises a non-rational world while following an irrational behaviour, man also developed a moral sense with which he moralises the world while following a natural (and for many, an often immoral) behaviour.

From the point of view of a monist universe, moral judgements have no universal validity for there is no universal moral order. But ethical judgements, judgements on how constructive or destructive self-regarding behaviour can be to others or the world, can be done objectively.…examples

The objectivity of Ethics

The relativity of Ethics

Moral subjectivity and relativism

The naturalistic fallacy

%d bloggers like this: