[Buddha-l] Ethical Dilemmas

Erik Hoogcarspel jehms at xs4all.nl
Fri Jun 11 04:37:27 MDT 2010

Op 11-06-10 11:26, Dan Lusthaus schre
> Erik,
> Your recent responses are quite disappointing.
I'm sorry Dan, I suppose I have still many lives to go before I reach a 
satisfying level of wisdom. But it used to be worse so I still have hope.
> Not at all. First of all, you are treating ethics as post-action
> justification, and "ought" when properly applied is aimed toward the future.
> Retrospective "oughts" are not ethical, but reprimands. To have an "ought,"
> one has to have guiding principles, and to have those principles be ethical
> they have to be sound and rationally grounded.
Nope, ought is a prescription a priori. I ought to help my neighbors 
even in the case I'm a teenager sailing alone around the world.
>>> Different situations have different stipulations. Deciding who gets the
>>> first cookie is not the same as deciding who lives and dies, and the
>>> requisite information and grasp of principles is radically different for
>>> each situation.
I think it is and I have some company, f.i. G.E. Moore was very much 
against the so called 'naturalist' thesis. The problem with 
situationalist ethics is that you have to find a justification for the 
rule you apply or for the act itself somehow in the situation itself, 
but due to the fact of perspectivism, it is often impossible to get some 
common ground there. It is much easier to agree on some common norms and 
values a prioir. If we agree on this we can also come to an agreement 
about the evaluation of the state of affairs, which we would need for a 
situationalist ethics anyhow. But we can also straight away agree on a 
general type of teleology or deontology.
> you don't allow just anyone to represent Holland on
> the football team at the World Cup
> http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/06/magazine/06Soccer-t.html?ref=magazine

Believe me I would, I was just about to ask Richard.
> But that is precisely where this goes. By your enunciated principle, it was
> ethical for Europe to turn its back on millions of gypsies, mentally
> retarded, Jews, Catholic priests, Poles, Russians... By the standard of
> innocence/guilt expressed by the situations I offered, that collaboration
> and compliance cannot muster the veneer of ethicality.
I think innocence or guilt is irrelevant here. That is the justice 
department. History is not just, it doesn't protect the innocent or 
punish the wrongdoers. Should we help the poor and victims of 
suppression? Of course. I should do it right now, but 'ought' implies 
'can'. I cannot remove the Burmese gunta, that's why they're still there.
> The issue is whether
> quantification is a sufficient criterion for life-and-death decisions. I've
> presented reasons with examples for why it is not.
Nor for decisions about cookies. Is it justified to kill a terrorist? 
According to utilism it is OK, according to Kant or Habermas it is not. 
I tend to agree with Kant, because the utilist approach would entail 
that you may kill anyone who is suspected to kill more than one person. 
This would make a very unsafe and violent society. A utilism that 
reckons with longterm consequences comes always very close to a deontology.



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