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Ethical Relationships

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11/27/2012 12:41:41 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
I'll be curious to identify who among the members of DDO can spot the person to whom these ideas belong. They're not mine, or not all mine, but I am influenced by them. So here we go.

It seems to be the case that ethical questions arise when individuals find themselves outside of the ethical status quo; that is to say that whatever the ostensible consensus of ethical principles is to them alienating in some way. Ethical controversy then becomes quite a process of re-evaluation, and so within a certain context. So, in what context, then do ethics exist? Communitarians might argue that we are only ethically bound to those to whom we "know" -those to whom we share a common identity, with whom we locate ourselves. It seems, then, if that were the case, that if ethical questions become a process of re"valuation within a community that to the extent that ethical questions can only arise within that community, that by the individual locating themselves outside of a given community would at once preclude and abrogate any ethical claims between both the individual and the community -but yet they may remain proximate. Is is not the case that the proximate individual who does not identify with (presumably because they are alienated by) the norms of a community still, at least de facto, a member -though perhaps a lesser member- of the community in question.

My qualms with communitarianism aside, let's consider proximity. Does proximity invoke ethical obligations? When we see a man on the street who would but for our intervention die, assuming for consideration that our intervention would come at no personal cost to us, do we have in that instance a duty to rescue? Are we, despite the fact that we did not (1) consent to (2) prepare for or (3) contract pursuant to the conspicuous visibility of "the other" to ourself bound ethically by sight? Perhaps so, but it would seem that proximity is not something sufficient to invoke ethical relation -or at least not physical proximity. Why?

If we witness through media atrocity committed against the innocent, do we not feel outrage? Outrage, a "righteous indignation" (though I use that term perhaps too cavalierly, but do nevertheless because I like it. Deal with it!) then becomes the metric of ethical obligation, or perhaps the indicator at least, and yet upon seeing or witnessing horror not in the first person but removed from an immediate experience do we, nevertheless, still engage in an ethical relationship with the victim? If so, what is the nature of that relationship? Humans are essentially precarious creatures, precarious in the sense that we are exposable to harm, not static and by the nature of our existence perhaps as precarious beings towards death necessarily social. What does that mean?

If I am subject to harm and you are too then we are both equals very much in the sense of what constitutes our existence. If we are all subject to harm and harm is something we would all wish to avoid if given the option, does not the rest of our species take on a relationship that must be predicated on not causing harm? If that is the case, to what extent does that extend? If I am harmed by you am I justified to reciprocate? If perpetuating harm is justifiable, sure, but if it is not, then no. This is unavoidably the case because if the desire to avoid harm is universal, and we are all exposable to harm, it must equally be the case that all human interaction must be predicated upon not harming or perpetuating harm, if avoiding harm is something that we desire for ourselves. But when does a person cause harm? At the imposition of ethical violence? Certainly. In the absence of preventing other harm? Most assuredly. But what is ethical violence?

Ethical violence is that violence waged in the name of perpetuating an invalid ethical norm, that is to promulgate a false consensus of right and wrong. But could such a consensus of right and wrong ever exist? Surely not, for reasons I think anyone could reason to for themselves. I think, though, that the very fact that no absolute consensus could be formed that it is necessary to interrogate the values of the presence that their imposition not take the form of ethical violence, that those who locate themselves outside the majority -where their behavior does not impede on the humanity of others- not be alienated by the majority, if such a majority exists.

Perhaps more on this later, but feel free to respond. I'd be interested to hear what you think, and if you can identify the source of the ideas I am advancing here. The source is not me, btw.
Posts: 2,607
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11/27/2012 2:56:16 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
Ethics are confusing. Probably why I never bother with them.

Also, tl;dr.
"Well, that gives whole new meaning to my assassination. If I was going to die anyway, perhaps I should leave the Bolsheviks' descendants some Christmas cookies instead of breaking their dishes and vodka bottles in their sleep." -Tsar Nicholas II (YYW)

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